Although Omid Djalili says the best thing to have come out of his successful BBC television show is a passport, he was of course born in Britain, and so this 'Iranian' comedian is as much at home poking fun at the way we talk about the weather and the petty tribalism of football as he is conjuring hilarious material out of such unlikely topics as home-grown terrorism and cutting people's hands off for stealing. Bolstered by an impressive array of accents - Nigerian being his favourite - and his trademark belly-dancing, it all makes for a great evening's entertainment.
Unlike many other comedians covering political issues (the rather dour Jeremy Hardy springs to mind), any moments of seriousness in Djalili's act are swiftly punctured by great punchlines or crude jokes, and even people who don't care about politics will enjoy his act immensely. He manages to go places - particularly areas like racism and the Middle East - where others would fear to tread, while remaining consistently light-hearted and engaging. 'People say to me, do you have the Samaritans in the Middle East, so if people are depressed and want to kill themselves, they can call up? We invented the Samaritans! Except, we don't call it the Samaritans, we call it a recruitment centre. Hello? You're depressed and want to kill yourself? Great, there's a bus leaving in 10 minutes, be on it.' Anyone who can make people laugh at suicide bombing is a comic genius - not only that, but he domesticates and diminishes contemporary fears, as in his suggestion to rebrand terrorists 'nancy boys' to lower recruitment.
Omid really needs to get a new warm-up act, though: Boothby Graffo and his guitar really don't cut the mustard. A quirky, off-the-wall type, Graffo's material comprised bad puns, weird songs (like 'baseball-playing spider' -?) and the odd amusing joke that just didn't compensate for his strange stage presence, checking his mobile phone every two minutes and frankly acknowledging how poorly he was being received by the audience. No one wants to be overshadowed by their support act, but surely they at least want the audience to be warmed up by the time they come on stage?
Lee Jones (DI Reviewer), 22/02/08
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