There are some gags in Omid Djaliliís latest DVD that are so dodgy that few stand-ups would dare approach them. Can you really do gags about England becoming increasingly like Poland, adopt a mockingly comic Nigerian or Chinese accent, or elicit ambiguous cheers for stating Israel is the most hated nation on earth? Djalili will give it a go.
As a cosmopolitan middle-class liberal with Iranian roots, Djalili would presumably argue his intent puts him at great distance from Jim Davidsonís Chalkie White territoryÖ although itís hard to detect how much irony there is in the roars of support he gets from the surprisingly boisterous crowd. Thatís what mainstream BBC One success (a fact he likes to remind us of) can bring.
He does frequently admonish the audience for their reaction, as if trying to mitigate the offence of getting a laugh from the stereotype in the first place. Plus thereís always his trademark of singing a cheesy pop hit, lounge style, to defuse any tension. But his reprimands are no more stern than the banter he exchanges with the raucous football fans in Londonís Hammersmith Apollo simply for mentioning the name of their favourite/least favourite team.
The melting pot of cultures in urban Britain certainly appears to fascinate him. The show begins with a witty description of how Iranians and Indians appear to be engaging in some unwritten competition to see who can be the most modest and self-effacing, and multiculturalism is a theme that is rarely far from the surface.
Parts of this 96-minute performance can feel a little undercooked, relying on Djaliliís broad range of accents and larger-than-life performance rather than brilliant material. But you canít help but warm to him, and that strength of personality easily carries the show.
With his acting abilities, heís also able to draw in the audience; spinning the mood in a second to become sombre and reflective as he makes a serious point about respect or spiritualityÖ only to undermine it with a daft joke. And shame on us for falling for it time and again.
Djaliliís a natural showman, and itís that which is on most prominent display here. His big finale is simply joyous, and the feelgood spirit that swept the live audience is strong enough to pervade the less engaging medium of DVD. The man has showbusiness in his veins.
Main feature: 96 mins
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment, November 16
Price: £19.99. Click here to buy from Amazon for £11.98.
Here's a trailer: