Kurdish comedian Kae Kurd says refugee rhetoric creates 'resentment'

Kae Kurd's family fled Iraq during Saddam Hussein's brutal regime, but he uses his humour to share his adversity in an alternative way, as he tells Entertainment Reporter Rishi Davda

Kae Kurd complicated things for me as an interviewer. I was laughing so much that I could barely get my questions out. I guess that's an occupational hazard when chatting to a comedian. 

At 33, Kae's talent has taken him to some of the country's biggest stages - including two performances on the iconic Live at the Apollo.

It isn't just in front of the camera where he brings the laughs, Kae has written for shows like A League of Their Own and Have I Got News For You.

Although things are going seemingly swimmingly now, Kae notes that it wasn't easy when he first picked up the microphone.

He tells me: "I remember getting on stage, someone telling me to do five minutes and I did three. I got one laugh, and I ran off.

"But I remember the buzz I got, there is this level of pressure that you don't get from just normal public speaking."

Having watched both of Kae's two previous comedy specials, he's certainly get more than just the solitary laugh now.

Rishi Davda chats to comedian Kae Kurd. Credit: ITV News

It's arguably the story of his early life that sets Kae apart from the rest on the comedy circuit.

He and his parents came to the UK in 1990 as refugees. His mum and dad were part of the resistance movement fighting against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

Thinking about what his parents endured before escaping, Kae reflects that he "doesn't even like paintballing."

"The idea of sending me into battle is just...I don't know how I would have dealt with (what my parents went through). It really puts things into perspective," he said.

Much of Kae's early comedy focused on the issues of race, identity and growing up in the UK.

Kae is of Kurdish heritage - Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without their own state.

In his act, the south-Londoner often makes light of the situation surrounding migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

However, he believes some of the mainstream rhetoric around the topic can be damaging in the long-term.

"When you use certain words to describe people, like when you use words like 'swarm', you vilify groups like this. It can cause a lot of resentment that can take decades to get rid of," he said.

Kae Kurd on Mock the Week. Credit: ITV News

Kae - whose real name is Korang Abdulla - is heading out on tour once again, his latest is called 'Kurd Immunity'.

Before he was filling theatres, the stand-up comedian relied on the internet to help get his name out there.

He praises its power, saying "the accessibility that social media has provided has eliminated a lot of those barriers that you would have had. It's great to see a lot of working-class, northern comics taking advantage of it."

"People all over the place are finding their own pockets of audiences and not necessarily being at the mercy of a TV commissioner."

Kurd Immunity starts on September 22 in Birmingham. 

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