Haus: What has been the biggest obstacle for you in the world of comedy?
Shazia: That people see me as a comedian. I just wanted to be a comedian, write jokes and make people laugh. Others couldn't get past seeing me as a spokesperson, a social commentator, a news reader, or God.
Haus: As an Asian woman, you hardly fit the demographic of the white heterosexual male that dominates mainstream comedy - why do you think that majority still exists?
Shazia: I don't see myself as Asian or as a woman. I always just see myself as Shazia Mirza and that I love comedy, want to be really good at it and want to progress. I have never seen who I am as a barrier. Yes comedy is dominated by white heterosexual males, but so is politics, science, law, banking, sport and commerce. If you come from a place of privilege you often get a head start, but if you are different - Asian, gay, working class - because you are different you often stand out and people notice you more so you can often get more noticed that way too. You have to use whatever you have in a positive way.
Shazia: I am not in favour of people getting a job, just because they are black, Asian, gay or whatever. I always think the best person for the job, should get the job. If I am being mugged down an alleyway I want the best police officer to save my life, not the worst police officer who just happens to be Asian. However, where there is a huge imbalance sometimes positive discrimination has to happen in order to get the ball rolling. If you never see women on a comedy panel show, then girls watching TV may think that is a job they can't do; women don't do those sort of jobs because they can't see any women in those roles. If this has been going on for a long time things will never change. So tokenism unfortunately has to happen to get this situation to change.
Haus: You became famous for a particularly risque joke in the wake of the 9/11 attacks - do you think this joke shaped the rest of your career?
Shazia: One joke, one line, never makes or breaks a career, especially in comedy. Comedy is about a lot of hard work and graft, driving up and down motorways, writing new material and trying it out - it may not work - then re- writing it. And in comedy nothing happens over night, it takes a long time to get good. People are naive about comedy, people think its easy. Its not, and it takes a long time to get good.
Shazia: Never. We live in a democracy, and as comedians we should be able to say any thing we want to say, as long as it's funny enough. Sometimes people need to be offended to shake up their thoughts and actions. If you are offended you need to to ask yourself why? Not being able to laugh at yourself is a measure of low self esteem.
Haus: In the wake of the recent attack on satirists in Paris, as well as the Sony hack about the release of The Interview, do you feel this is a dangerous time to be speaking as candidly as you have in the past?
Shazia: Not at all! This is the time to be speaking as candidly as possible. I recently wrote an article for the Financial Times about the importance of satire and religion. Why not take a peak? (Ridicule what is sacred and you will learn - FT.com)