Here’s another comedy act we booked on the strength of their appearances on Have I Got News For You. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting – something like a female Omid Djalili maybe, although my lumping those two together simply because they’re both Iranian sounds at best lazy, as worst a bit racist on reflection; and anyway they are not very similar at all! Shappi Khorsandi very much has her own style. I would categorise her as “extremely laid back but extremely confident”. You could never describe Mr Djalili as laid back!
This was particularly noticeable in the first half of the show before the interval (first third really) where instead of having a warm up act who would (by definition) not be as good as her, she acted as her own warm up act – as she points out, times are hard – where she was deliberately a bit rubbish in comparison to what you might expect from her – but entertainingly so. It was quite a nice way of gently subverting the format. Of course, in that first half she chatted with some members of the audience, gathering potential material as she went, which included discovering the youngest member of the audience, 10 year old Alice, whose father obviously thought this would be a personality enhancing, intellectual “right-on” gig; but where Ms Khorsandi decided that she wasn’t in any way going to “youth-down” her material and went straight for sharing some shocking bad language. It was very funny for the rest of us, not sure what Alice’s Dad made of it.
Mrs Chrisparkle and I made our way to our interval drinks having enjoyed the first half but being quite amazed at how little material she had prepared for it. It was, basically, just a chat. Fortunately, Ms Khorsandi is a naturally funny and charming lady so she really gets away with it. In the second half she tells us this is where the act begins proper and she’s got some great material – funny, self-revealing and with a nice sense of compassion.
She spends a lot of time talking about her brother and examining brother-sister relationships; I’m an “only child” but Mrs C has three brothers and Shappi Khorsandi’s observations clearly hit Mrs C’s funnybone head-on. She has a cool way of holding back a killer punchline until the very final moment when she lets it slip just as she’s taking a drink of water (first act) or wine (second act). She’s very good when dealing with the nonsensical life that is being a parent; and her ability to involve the audience is also very effective.
But when you take the show as a whole, its success really rests on her general likeability and her very smiley expressive face. It was a very enjoyable way of spending an evening, but when you look back on it and try to piece together what you witnessed, you kind of wonder – tell me again, what exactly happened there?