13th - 26th August
Comedians are a needy bunch. In their insatiable quest to generate more laughs, attract bigger crowds and cause more controversy, they will go to extreme lengths to grab our attention. Insulting the audience; joining the audience; dragging the audience on stage plus an array of other variations on the tried-and-tested stand-up routine – most of which involve meddling with the audience.
In fairness, it’s not always the comedian who’s culpable when the audience gets dragged into proceedings: sometimes they bring it upon themselves. Hecklers, wise-guys and drunken fools must all be negotiated with consummate skill, or when that fails with bluster and profanity.
Shappi Khorsandi doesn’t set out to engage with the audience – given the choice she’d rather dispense her scripted stand-up and then bid us a cheery farewell – but when an ailing gentleman leaves his seat, she is compelled to pass comment. Anything less would be a dereliction of her duties as a self-respecting comic. Unfortunately, Khorsandi doesn’t do impro very well. She’s not cringeworthy or offensive; she’s just not very good at improvising, in the same way that a substandard reviewer might struggle to improvise a suitable metaphor with which to finish this sentence, causing it to end on a whimper. It’s a missed opportunity, though Khorsandi will be presented with further opportunities to improvise as the evening develops. First though, there’s a show to deliver.
Shappi Khorsandi is a feisty one. What the Iranian-born comedian may lack in stature, she makes up for in character. Tales of her ill-fated relationship with a minor league rockstar are interwoven with observations about family, race and religion. At times, Khorsandi’s jokes are too immature for the audience – or are the audience too mature for Khorsandi? Taken aback by the nonplussed looks, the comedian feels compelled to elucidate. It should be noted that if you’re unfamiliar with such basic tenets as MILFs and scat, you’re probably not ready for adult comedy.
Like most stand-ups, Khorsandi treats us to a mix of true anecdotes and ‘true’ anecdotes. Where the truth begins and the ‘truth’ ends is hard to tell, though for the purposes of the show, it’s immaterial – all that matters is that it’s highly entertaining. By the end of the hour, we’ve gained a small insight into the comedian’s world, unless all of her true stories were ‘true’ stories, in which case we’re none the wiser but all the merrier.
The hour is wrapped up with some last-minute impro, this time regarding Khorsandi’s new haircut, which she’s regretting. It’s not as regrettable as her spontaneous comedy, however, which one again fails to shine. Still, it seems churlish to complain, as for the previous 55 minutes, Shappi Khorsandi has been a sharp-witted menace. She should stick to the script more often.
Since our last attempt at a rating system (scoring video games out of 79) was such a raging success, we’ve decided to adopt an entirely new system for the Fringe: each show’s rating will be represented as a shooped reaction face. Of a cat. Because…well, just because. We’ve got an entire folder of this cat’s RFs, and it seems only right to put them to good use, helping people make an informed decision about the merits of each show. Let kitty be your guide, cos that’s as close to a rating system as you’re gonna get.