For some years I’ve enjoyed Shappi Khorsandi’s short spots on tv shows such as Just For Laughs and the MICF Comedy Gala, but I’ve never seen her live. Much of her appeal is her bouncy delivery coupled with outsider’s eye observations.
The latter is a result of her family’s relocation to England after her Persian writer father offended the Islamic Republic, and her reflections on being between two cultures often helped her stand out from the comedy pack. I now wonder if Khorsandi is a five-minute specialist. As my companion incisively put it after Khorsandi’s eponymous show, “Maybe her appeal isn’t really to do with her comedy.”
Experimentation is great when done well, but why change a winning formula? Now 40, Khorsandi has largely given up her point of difference in this show. Commenting a few times that she usually doesn’t talk about sex, she should have trusted her instincts; I didn’t find it particularly strong material. More successful were some observations on racism and those about her kids’ behaviours and her friends, which allowed her to show us her effervescence. However, the unconnected nature of the show meant that my funny bone wasn’t subjected to sustained tickling. And asides from Khorsandi on how her Persian Gran and Auntie challenged stereotypes when they moved to Britain just highlighted how much more interesting this was compared to the bulk of her material.
Khorsandi now has a six-month-old and mentioned baby brain and jetlag, and had a cough, but this was the fourth preview show, so I don’t know that the piece can be expected to change so radically now. The fact that she hasn’t adapted several UK references that were lost on a local audience isn’t a good indicator of preparation. Rather than dwell on disappointment, I’m choosing to look forward to the next handful of minutes of that delightful impishness that made me an ardent fan of short-form Shappi Khorsandi.