Antonin Artoud Theatre,
Review date: 31st May 2019
Produced by: Centre for Comedy Studies Research and Brunel Arts
Judging by the way Shappi Khorsandi bounded about the huge Antonin Artoud theatre in such a skittish way at Brunel University you’d never have guessed she was as tired as she confessed to feeling. The stage was enormous but she filled it with tremendous energy, sprightliness and joie de vivre as she bantered with some of the packed audience.
Her cheeky, somewhat saucy aside to the young male student as she recalled her own student days brought the house down. Once she’d got through her introductory light hearted audience interaction she moved on to share some of the ups and down of her 20 year journey as a Stand-Up Comedian. This included observing up close the awful baptism of fire a female comedian experience at one of the first live gigs Shappi ever attended at the brilliant but sadly now defunct Comedy Cafe, Shoreditch. It’s a wonder that didn’t put her off going into stand up comedy for life. Fortunately she was made of sterner, warrior stuff and went on to perform countless gigs over the years. She paid her dues and earned her stripes in the comedy industry, often spending more to get to far out gigs than she earned from the gig – if she got paid at all that is – such is the life of the up and coming comedian.
Her hard work and dedication paid off and her trajectory elevated her to the high national profile she currently enjoys. This has resulted in appearances on Question Time and meeting the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. There were some extremely funny anecdotes from those encounters set many years apart, well before and after she became well known. She has appeared on ‘Live at the Apollo’ and shared her experiences being on last year’s ‘I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here.’ There were some terrific stories about that show.
I loved the fact there were a number of her fellow Iranian’s in the audience with whom you could tell she enjoyed interacting with. The young lady asleep on the shoulder of her friend got of quite lightly I thought. We were told she was ill so it was lucky for them Shappi had the empathy to avoid making a meal of the situation as I suspect some other less than empathetic comedians, who would have been eager to make comedic capital from the situation.
Shappi was on fine, dare I say it, skittish warrior form and it is this, allied to her comedic talent, that has helped her survive not only the Australian jungle, but the arguably for more precarious jungle that is the UK stand-up comedy circuit.
Support act Joy Carter also gave a fine performance which included regaling the audience with her musical talent and sharing some of her very unusual backstory growing up as an adopted Nigerian child in Scunthorpe.
Compere, Australian Laura Davis, came across confidently, if a little confusingly at times – one moment telling the audience she’s bi-sexual, the next that she has a husband! We’ll leave her to explain that away! I found her to be a bit too loud and shouty when adopting an exaggerated Aussie accent elongated. Laura has potential but needs to work on finding her authentic comedy voice.
It was of note that this was an all female and international line up featuring comedians with Australian, Iranian and Nigerian heritage. That’s a refreshing break from the norm and helped create an excellent night of comedy from the Centre for Comedy Studies Research and Brunel Arts.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
Shappi Khorsandi is currently on tour with Skittish Warrior and published two books – ‘A Beginner’s Guide To Acting English’ and ‘Nina Is Not OK.’