Thu 22 Jan 2015
The quirky warm-up comedian with an equally quirky name, Boothby Graffoe, eased the audience into the evening with amusing anecdotes and a hilarious account of his attempts to break into the world of screen writing.
After a short interval, with our giggle boxes satisfyingly massaged, Omid Djalili confidently strode out on to the stage. Unsurprisingly, Iranian-British Omid Djalili is no stranger to Edinburgh. He’s been a fixture on the Festival circuit for the last 22 years. In that time he has won the Time Out Award and EMMA Award for Best Stand Up, and has been nominated for the South Bank Award. In his other career he won the Best Actor Award for his lead performance in ‘The Infidel’ at the Turin Film Festival. All very impressive!
In his new suit and boots, he took us through a flurry of cultural gags, ever so slightly leaning on the on the racial side, but being part Iranian himself, he somehow gets away with it! After an explosive punch line we witness him strutting around the stage, dancing to Bollywood music and swinging the microphone from his pelvis! This is no shy man! He stated he “doesn’t want to offend people” yet continued to mock people from Stratford Upon Avon about Shakespeare’s possible accent, Arabs, ‘Musselburghers’, Pakistanis, Americans and Nigerians! His talent for accents, even Northern Irish, however is remarkable and this aided his amusing observations and anecdotes.
Although he did touch on sensitive issues, he was not afraid to turn the joke on himself – over his short, fat and bald stature, which doesn’t get him as many film star roles as he’d like! He consoled himself however, with the fact that America is the one place where he doesn’t feel fat!
He took a further step onto ethical thin ice with his view that we should not exclude people with disabilities, as to do so is more discriminatory, than to mock them just like everyone else. This gag – by his own admission – divided audience opinion. Omid went on to demonstrate his warm demeanour and down-to-earth character. He won over the female audience members by claiming; ‘women are better than men… at finding things’!
The evening was rounded off by a round of questions posted by the “audience”, although having read about material of his prior tour shows, some of these question would appear to be a little scripted and self aggrandising. He made reference to his three Hollywood films, added in some name-dropping and even sang a selection of songs from the boyband Blue?… Not the strongest part of the set by a long chalk!
At the end there was a shameful plug of his new book – ‘Hopeful’ – which just happened to be on sale in the foyer. The stand-up, writer, actor and trumpet blower ended with the philosophical message that, ‘we should not look at people from our ivory towers because everyone struggles.’
Reviewer : Sarah Lewis