The script goes like this. The young man from the wrong side of the tracks faces adversity, rejection and heartache, but by virtue of his struggle and likeability, achieves his dream in the face of daunting odds. Not bad… but this story needs some more reality to make me believe in the central character, Cyrus Bezyan.
Cyrus is an Iranian-born Australian comedian who has performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Sydney Comedy Festival. Cyrus admits his path to comedy was a rocky one but at the same time it gave him all his best material.
“I was only five when my family and I moved from Iran to Australia, and I grew up in the northern suburbs of Sydney,” he said.
“I was able to learn English pretty quickly from school and just listening to the world around me. In particular, I loved watching cartoons, especially the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“At school I felt different from the other kids, especially in primary school where I felt ashamed of my background. High school proved to be a more inclusive environment, where I made friends in different social circles but it also meant I never belonged to one particular clique.”
Around this time Cyrus learned he was a smart arse who could make his friends, peers and teachers laugh when giving presentations. What promised to be the start of his comedy career, however, turned into a four year accounting degree that he hated.
“I never considered the arts as a realistic profession coming from a family of doctors, nurses and engineers,” he said.
“I put pressure on myself to complete the degree out of respect to my parents, I felt I owed them for sacrificing so much to bring me to Australia.”
Fortunately, his dislike for accounting pushed him to explore other societies and experiences at university.
“While interning at an ad agency, I learned I could get paid for funny ideas, but I also learned that I didn’t want to do advertising. I started writing and performing stand-up, and I appeared in the uni comedy revue. This all enabled me to realistically see myself having a career in comedy.”
Cyrus advises that if you want a robust career in comedy, to actively seek out life experience and not to rely on ethnic stereotyping. Saying that, his current show explores his Iranian roots and why he chose to change his name at the age of 14. Cyrus makes the point that the joke isn’t the fact that he’s Iranian, the jokes come out of experiences of being an Iranian Australian.
“As an Iranian Australian in today’s political climate, my family and I have experienced racial prejudice,” he said.
“My father wisely advised me not to let those experiences colour this world and beautiful country, because there are so many more good people out there. I still have some anxiety travelling outside of major cities but I try to not have preconceptions about others.
“Ultimately, I believe community means a sense of belonging within a group, whereby you realise being alive is a shared experience.”
Cyrus is a very busy man these days, with his fingers in many pies, including writing for animated kid’s shows, hosting a monthly comedy night (Conspiracy Theories) at Giant Dwarf, working full-time at Comedy Central and working on his upcoming comedy show that you can go see at the 2016 Sydney Comedy Festival.
Come experience your community LIVE at the ‘Rainbow Neighbourhood: Creating Diverse and Inclusive Organisations’ event, coming to Fitzy’s Convention Centre in Logan on Saturday 20 April, 2016. To register, click here to visit our events page.