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Shappi Khorsandi: Me And My Brother, In Our Pants, Holding Hands

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Julian Hall

It has been a week for shock and numb feelings – emotions repeated for an altogether different reason by the end of this show.

Shappi Khorsandi makes a reference to the riots that have erupted across England and you can see she is clearly concerned by it. She has always worn her big heart on her sleeve and later in this show a letter, supposedly from her brother, about Iranian politics makes a series of earnest points. The sentiments are genuine even if it feels like a contrivance. Unfortunately, it is the impression of contrivance that is the overwhelming one from this show, however well-intentioned it is.

For a start, this is meant to be a show about her brother, but we learn very little about him and he seems to be a cipher for her. When he does come into the narrative he doesn't make the metaphoric leap from the cute enlarged photo of the two of them, which is placed on stage, out into a three dimensional subject.

What we get is a series of brief vignettes from the family life of Khorsandi featuring her parents, extended family and scenes from her life with her young son. None of them seem to build on each other, though, and they tend to be glib and overplayed.

Toddlers, for example are cute because they are pyschopaths. She means that their butter-wouldn't-melt appearance hides a darker intent but she has to over-explain her joke because the initial sentiment doesn't quite gel in our minds; it's like she put the punchline before the set-up.

That said, Khorsandi knows what a gag looks like and sometimes it's just her coy and mannered delivery that tramples on an idea. Sometimes it is the idea itself that crumbles under the weight of its own artifice, for example likening the bedroom she shared shared her brother to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

I left the gig feeling bewildered by the lack of engagement I felt towards it, and conscious that Khorsandi looks as if she has reached a critical point in her stand-up, where successive Edinburgh shows are bearing out the law of diminishing returns.

Review date: 12 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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