I couldn’t get you a table in McDonalds, so I don’t think I’m powerful.”

That was comedian Shazia Mirza’s response to being listed on the inaugural Muslim Women's Power List as one of the 20 most successful Muslim women in the UK.

“I just want to make people laugh,” added the modest comedian, who is headlining an evening of the best of the North West’s Asian comedy talent at Bolton Octagon tonight.

In the international menagerie of comedy, Shazia is the rarest of rarities — a female stand-up who is also a devout Muslim.

At 32, in accordance with her faith, Mirza is a virgin, a non-drinker and a non-smoker.

She has never had a boyfriend and says: “I don’t know much about men, but I do tell jokes about them and people laugh.”

Birmingham-born Shazia jokes how she could have had an arranged marriage to a rich man and lived in a mansion.

But instead she chose to drive up and down the country for as little as £10, staying in dirty bed and breakfasts and trying to make people laugh.

As Britain’s only female Muslim stand-up, Shazia started her career in 2001 as a hobby while teaching science by day — and up until she was about to appear on national television, kept her double life from her parents.

“They don’t see it as a career. They think comedians make a living because they are lucky, so I’m lucky I suppose,” she said.

“I was always the joker at school, the class clown, but I don’t think anyone ever imagined I would be doing this for a living, certainly not anyone of my parents' generation.”

About a year into her stand-up comedy career, she gained UK-wide publicity in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks.

At this time she would perform her act in hijab dress and begin with the deadpan remark: "My name is Shazia Mirza.

"At least, that's what it says on my pilot's licence."

In the past few years, working the clubs of England and other European venues, she has become notorious: appearing at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival and being voted one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy.

At the moment Shazia is working on writing a comedy film with David Baddiel and later this year will play an areobics teacher in the second series of BBC2 sitcom Beautiful People.

Since 2006 she has written a witty fortnightly column for the New Statesman, for which she has won Columnist of the Year. Her column is her platform to poke fun at modern day life, something she says shapes her standup routine for tonight.

“My act for tonight includes observational jokes about Primark and Matalan. I enjoy the behaviour of women in these bargain shops. I go in just to amuse myself.”

l Urban Comedy presents Comedy Mela event at the Octagon Theatre Bolton tonight at 8pm. See Shazia Mirza with support from Ryan Gough and Imran Yusuf. Tickets on 01204 520661.