Shappi Khorsandi: Oh My Country! From Morris Dancing to Morrissey
The Stand Comedy Club (venue 5)
She’s a comedian who has performed on the stages of many festivals and on tv, so there was standing room only at her show at The Stand and an enthusiastic welcome when she bounded onto the small stage.
She quickly recapped her credentials for us and then got to the heart of the show: how she came to be in Britain after her family were kicked out of Iran, and how she came to love the freedom and the tolerance of her new country and waves a St George Cross flag to prove it.
Like many an immigrant, she and her parents found the ways of the new country strange – blind dogs, food wrapped in foil and posh accents, to name but a few of the more humorous childhood encounters. As young woman, she begins to find her voice in protest. She ably counters the “go back to your own country” racist slurs to her with a list of famous Brits who not in fact, born here and adds to that a plea for the understanding that in many ways our entitlement to the “golden ticket” of a British passport is just an accident of birth.
She’s particularly funny about the wildly different personalities of her children – the polite, proper and orderly son who is in complete contrast to his wild Middle Eastern shrieking granny of a sister who should not be asked to brush her teeth.
She take us on a few trips too – to a music fest with the boyfriend who doesn’t want to share his beer and her memorable riposte; and to Calais where she meets the children of the The Jungle, refugees stuck there, she says because we don’t want to share our country with them anymore. She finishes with an homage to Billy Bragg, a hero of hers since the 80s.
There are many funny moments and touching stories that mix the personal and the political but overall the show feels disjointed. Perhaps she’s trying too hard to cram in her inclusivity and anti-racism messages and we are left with too many of the stories that, while amusing, feel as if they are designed to teach us a lesson.