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As a kid I loved Pro Evolution Soccer 5 – now it’s won me a new comedy audience | Bilal Zafar

My standup career stalled when the pandemic arrived. But I get my kicks as a football manager on Twitch – and giving each player a storyline

I began 2020 full of optimism, excited about returning to the Edinburgh fringe in August with a new show and feeling quite good about my standup. Then the pandemic arrived. As well as worrying about the health of family and friends, all my work disappeared overnight. The majority of my income is from performing standup in clubs around the country. On 1 April, it was announced that the Edinburgh fringe was cancelled. (Yes, they did it on April Fools’ Day.) Everything I had been carefully planning and working towards vanished.

Lots of comedians perform live on social media. I’ve live-streamed on Facebook, which only reached my cousins and a bunch of strangers, and I tried Instagram Live, where people would join by accident and immediately leave. Since lockdown began, I’ve been asked to do a few online gigs. They’re quite nice but doing my standup material to complete silence is what happens in my anxiety dreams.

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