REVIEW: Shappi Khorsandi at the Lowry

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SHAPPI Khorsandi brought her latest tour, Oh My Country!, to a close at The Lowry last night. The “serious yet silly” show was an entertaining celebration of her 40th year in England and had the audience in stitches throughout.

Kicking off the evening, support act Tom Lucy made his way onto stage and instantly focused his gags on Salford and its residents.

The quick-witted 19-year-old had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout, calling on audience members three times his age and receiving sharp retorts in return.

“What’s the best thing to do in Salford?” he asked. “Leave!” was the reply. The way that he just shrugged and accepted it before moving on made the whole routine even funnier.

As one of the youngest professional comedians in the UK, he referred to his age throughout and an entertaining anecdote about his Mum’s confusion between a terrorist group and a popular fashion website – ISIS/ASOS – had the crowd chuckling.

With a steady pace and self-awareness beyond his years, Lucy is undoubtedly one for comedy fans of all ages to watch.

Main attraction of the night, Shappi Khorsandi gave herself a huge entrance as she announced her own name through the speakers and encouraged the audience to cheer and clap before taking to the stage.

The Iranian-born comic is no stranger to using content which depicts her absorption into England – with stories from when she was just 4-years-old to others from earlier this year.

Khorsandi tells of abuse directed towards her as she grew up in this weird and wonderful country. She explores the the differing ways in which she and her friends deal with bereavement, her parents’ approach to charity events at school and the varied morals between her and her boyfriend.

An anecdote, which dated back to her giving a talk on homeless youngsters to an audience including Jeremy Corbyn, revealed that Corbyn himself thought she was homeless and offered her money to phone a shelter for the evening.

In the stereotypical English way, Khorsandi accepted the money and now “carries a sleeping bag everywhere” just in case she bumps into Corbyn, so not to embarrass him. Everyone has been in a similar situation at some point in their lives, right?

The mother of two is still reminded of her Iranian-roots on a daily basis, in the form of her 3-year-old daughter. In contrast to her 9-year-old ‘English gentleman’ son, she portrays her daughter as a shrieking, middle-aged Iranian woman – showing the sheer scale of the performance that she brings with her to each show.

Running slightly over the planned hour long set,Khorsandi admitted that she gave herself an encore – just another sign that she thoroughly enjoyed her time on the Salford stage as much as the audience did.

Ending with another anecdote, the comic told of a heated, racism-fuelled incident on public transport. Referring to a comment directed at her, she explained how it was a bittersweet moment of self-affirmation.

She also mentioned members of the public who simply stood and watched – she wasn’t upset that they didn’t back her up though, just that they didn’t recognise her.

With a look back over the last 40 years, a lot of stories had the opportunity to be very sad and very serious, yet her quick wit and matter-of-fact approach had the audience laughing along throughout.

The main message that she hopes to send out is that you don’t have to be born in England to be English and as she explains, Joey Essex wasn’t born here… He actually was, but does it really matter?

Khorsandi left the stage trailing an England fan behind her as her idol, Billy Bragg’s ‘This Land Is Your Land’ blasted from the speakers. The crowd made their way out of the theatre and a sense of shared patriotism washed over everyone.

By Hollie Rees
@HollieJRees

 

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