The first significant success of his stand-up comedy career was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1995 with “Short, Fat Kebab Shop Owner’s Son”, followed by “The Arab and the Jew” in 1996.
He has performed in numerous countries, including Australia, Ireland, Denmark, Canada, Germany and the United States, where he had his own HBO Special and did 22 episodes of the NBC sitcom Whoopi with Whoopi Goldberg.
He did his part for Comic Relief after the 2005 Indian Ocean earthquake and also in 2005 he appeared on the British TV show Top Gear as a celebrity driver. The same year he broke Edinburgh Festival box office records with over 16,500 ticket sales.
In 2006, Sky Television picked him to be the face of their Saturday night movie premières, and he also announced a new tour of the UK called ‘No Agenda’, from January 2007 until March 2007, covering 23 different dates. The No Agenda tour DVD was released in late 2007.
On 18 March 2007, he was voted by the British public as the 60th best stand-up comedian in a Channel 4 programme “The 100 Greatest Stand-Ups”. On 26 October 2007, he guest-presented the BBC political quiz show Have I Got News for You. The Omid Djalili Show started on BBC1 on 17 November 2007. The series is a mix of sketches and stand-up material. A second series was recorded in late 2008 and began broadcast on BBC1 on 20 April 2009. He performed on We Are Most Amused on ITV1 to mark Prince Charles‘s 60th birthday in 2008.
Djalili has appeared in a number of films, most notably Gladiator, The Mummy, Mean Machine, Alien Autopsy, Spy Game, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Grow Your Own, Notting Hill, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Sex and the City 2.
He had observed that he usually appears as a generic Middle Eastern background character in many of these films, often commenting that he appears in the “James Bond film” as the “Second Azerbaijani oil pipe attendant”. He is known to American audiences as Nasim from the U.S. sitcom Whoopi, starring Whoopi Goldberg, and picked up an international film award for Best Supporting Actor in Casanova, starring alongside Heath Ledger and Jeremy Irons.
On 12 February 2009, Cameron Macintosh (producer) announced that Djalili will appear as the second Fagin in the new West End production of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London. Omid took over from Rowan Atkinson, who was contracted until 18 July 2009.
In 2009, Djalili became the voice of Yusuf Amir in the popular gaming series Grand Theft Auto. He took up the role in the Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony spin-off game. In 2010 starred in the David Baddiel scripted movie The Infidel.
In 2010 Djalili starred in a series of TV and cinema adverts for Money Supermarket.
Djalili will appear in the upcoming NBC sitcom The Paul Reiser Show, which is expected to be a midseason replacement for the 2010-11 television season.
On 13 June 2010, Djalili appeared in a Meltdown Festival concert given by the Philharmonia Orchestra at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, performing the part of the narrator in ‘Rubaiyat’, a tone poem by American classical composer Alan Hovhaness which sets the words of Omar Khayyám to music.
- The Mummy (1999)
- Notting Hill (1999)
- Mad Cows (1999)
- The World Is Not Enough (1999)
- Gladiator (2000)
- Spy Game (2001)
- Mean Machine (2001)
- Anita and Me (2002)
- Cross My Heart (2003)
- Deadlines (2004)
- The Calcium Kid (2004)
- Modigliani (2004)
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
- Casanova (2005)
- Alien Autopsy (2006)
- Over the Hedge (2006)
- Grow Your Own (2007)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
- The Love Guru (2008)
- Dead Man Running (2009)
- The Infidel (2010)
- Sex and the City 2 (2010)
- Animals United (2010)
- Mr Nice (2010)
- The Bill (1998)
- Barking (1998)
- The Lake of Darkness (1999)
- Cleopatra (1999)
- Coming Soon (1999)
- Small Potatoes (1999)
- Black Books (2000)
- Jason and the Argonauts (2000)
- Lenny Henry in Pieces (2000)
- So What Now? (2001)
- Relic Hunter (2002)
- Dinotopia: The Series (2002)
- Between Iraq and a Hard Place (2003)
- Whoopi (2003)
- Live at the Apollo (2004)
- Age of Awakening. Narrator (2005)
- Chopra Town (2005)
- One Night Stand (HBO) (2005)
- My Family and Other Animals (2005)
- Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive (2006)
- Jack Dee’s Lead Balloon (2006)
- Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law (2006)
- TV Heaven, Telly Hell (2007)
- Have I Got News For You (2007)
- The Omid Djalili Show (2007)
- Premier League All Stars (2007)
- Never Mind The Buzzcocks (2008)
- The Omid Djalili Show – Series 2 (2009)
- Would I Lie To You? (2009)
- The Paul Reiser Show (2010)
- Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony as Yusuf Amir.(2009)
- 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand as Eddie.(2009)
Djalili has won awards for his comedy. These include the EMMA Award, Time Out Award, and LWT Comedy Award for Best Stand-up Comedian, Spirit of the Fringe Award as well as the One World Media Award for his Channel 4 documentary, Bloody Foreigners.
He has also been nominated for awards, such as the Perrier Award for Best Comedian, the Gemini Award for Best Comedy Performance of 2003, the South Bank Award for Best Comedy of 2003, the Royal Television Society Award for Best Stand-up, and the European TV Award for his Bloody Foreigners.