Your Plan Entertainment
Harrow Arts Centre
Review date: 8th March 2019
Comedy and spirituality became unlikely companions at the India vs Pakistan stand up comedy clash. Not that the show was focused on matters of faith or religion, but more as a by product of the uncanny resemblance of jovial host Jay Handley to Jesus Christ. He played this for light-hearted laughs which went down very well with the audience.
Curiously Jay, from Birmingham, was the only non-Asian on the line up and whilst segments of the show went right over his head, mine too – since a good 25% of the show was delivered in Punjabi and Urdu, he was an excellent host who kept things ticking along nicely especially with his good natured, sometimes quite acerbic and arguably a tad aggressive, picking on the ‘Mayfair set’ of gentlemen in the front row. Perhaps he saw them as fair games … they were Estate Agents after all!
Talking of ticking along, there was a small degree of light hearted joshing around Asian stereotypes throughout the show – vis a vis housing, boarding airplanes and travelling on the London Underground, as well as poking fun at the well known commercial nous of many in the Asian community when it comes to retail.
In an unusual and brave move the promoter and leader of Team Pakistan, Salman Malik, pulled off a show mixing 3 Comedian’s of Indian origins and 3 of Pakistani origins. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Asian politics will be aware the two countries don’t exactly get along politically and neither are we lead to believe do its citizens, so it was a bold and brave move to put on this event.
Although going into this show I was a little apprehensive that many of the jokes might go over my head, that wasn’t the case in the main. Around 70% of the time the jokes (those in English that is) struck a chord with me. It was when the acts seamlessly segue-wayed into Punjabi or Urdu, for instance, that I was lost but it was great to hear the laughter at the punch lines, although it certainly was unusual to be in a situation where you were un-intentionally excluded from the jokes. I’m thinking about contacting the promoter, Plan Your Entertainment, to see if I can get a 25% refund based on the percentage of non-English speaking jokes I couldn’t understand …
It was all fine though really and I recognised and accepted that for the many Asians in the packed Harrow Arts Centre, this might well have been a rarity to hear so much live stand up comedy delivered in their language of origin as opposed to English.
As a reviewer not so familiar with Asian culture I found the night to be extremely enjoyable and as I said, in the main accessible, but in a funny sort of way, pleasingly non-accessible at times too.
I especially enjoyed the inter-generational jokes from acts such as Hyde Panaser and Sukh Ojhla, the only female act on the line up. The line up also included the superb Eshaan Akbar, Mani Liaqat and Aatif Nawaz.
All performers did exceptionally well and I’d certainly go and see them again. However, considering it was International Women’s Day, something that was periodically highlighted during the night, it was a bit of a missed opportunity not to have more than one woman on the bill.
The bravery of the organisers in putting on such a show paid off. With an event that aimed to “break barriers with love and laughter” it most certainly achieved that by bringing together different communities that might not ordinarily mix.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
Photo’s courtesy of IMG Photography
The charity partner for the night was Forgotten Women and it was nice of the promoter to allow representatives to talk on stage for a few minutes to show the video below and inform the audience of their work in supporting female victims of rape in war torn countries, plus raising awareness of the horrific murders and life changing maiming of innocent men and children.