British stand-up comic Omid Djalili feels perfectly natural in his role as Nasim, an Iranian hotel manager and handyman on Whoopi. That's ironic, since in real life, this 38-year-old father of three is the antithesis of Bob Vila. Translation: He's a total clutz!
"When they said I was playing a handyman, I thought, 'Oh God,'" Whoopi Goldberg's sidekick tells TV Guide Online. "My wife thinks it is the biggest joke. I can barely change a bulb. I changed a bulb once in 1998.
"I understand that women find it very attractive if [men can] do that," he adds with a chuckle. "So I'm actually trying to learn how to change fuses and put the right things in the plugs and that kind of thing. The people on the show don't know that I'm doing this, but I'm trying to learn, just so I can be a bit more authentic in the role."
Besides polishing his Mr. Fix-It routine, the funnyman is also tinkering with his stand-up act. Djalili performs March 10-20 in New York City as part of the British/Irish Comedy Invasion, where he's billed as Britain's only Iranian comedian. "I love to really express [my feelings], especially now, as a Middle Eastern person post-9/11," he says. "A lot of stand-up comics, especially in the United States, have just been doing anti-Arab humor. I think what I'm trying to do is present a whole different side of the coin without upsetting anyone."
Don't expect a dry lecture on cultural diversity, though. Djalili keeps his act silly, largely by using physical shtick. "There are loads of surprises," he promises. "I would describe it as political humor, undercut with belly dancing and Godzilla impressions."