Shazia Mirza: A Portrait Of Shazia Mirza
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
As seen on F*** Off I'm A Hairy Woman, Miss Real World and Have I Got News For You (all BBC), World Stands Up (Paramount), 60 Mins (CBS). Voted one of the 100 Greatest Stand Ups (Ch4)
Rather like Ali G's ‘Is it cos I is black?’ catch-all retort to unfavourable situations, Shazia Mirza attributes any failure to laugh at her material as guilty discomfort at what she perceives to be its provocative content.
In reality, it's nothing of the sort. It's simply not that funny. In case she hasn't already made it abundantly clear, she's a female Muslim stand-up, credentials which she seems to think imbue everything she utters with a shock value that negates the need to add anything more.
She swears! She talks about sex! But while it may be highly unusual for a Muslim woman, it's pretty standard fare for a comic.
Mirza's jokes are shocking only in their lack of ambition. Of budget airline Ryanair, she offers: ‘It's just a council estate in the air’. On a TV programme she made with a glamour model, she remarks cattily but witlessly: ‘Danielle is such a glamour model name.’
Her material about race and religion, though there’s less of this now, tends to be similarly half-hearted. She makes some gag about the incongruity of a Muslim going ski-ing, but without any real punchline. The only time her low-level bitching hits the mark is in an excellent gag about Heather Mills, again, an obvious target, but a good line all the same.
The jokes are underpinned by a barely-disguised awareness of her failings - on more than one occasion she nervously jokes about stopping people trying to leave the gig.
The show hinges on the fact a photograph of Mirza, who also writes a column for the New Statesman, was recently hung in the National Portrait Gallery, next to one of Nelson Mandela. She can't quite believe it and says so, several times.
It's not really that surprising - to be a Muslim woman doing stand-up is pioneering and deserves recognition. It also makes Mirza’s squandering of her considerable profile all the more irritating.
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin
Sid - 25/07/2009
Chortle have used one of the most unflattering pictures ever! They've made her look like a clown!
Ben - 20/09/2008
This review certainly reflects more about the misogynist, racist and generally insecure characteristics of the person behind Chortle, rather than the comedian herself. Glancing at the reviews of other very good female comedians I know, the rotten personality of the person in question (a failed comedian perhaps?) shines through. I've seen Shazia many times and she's had me doubled over in hysterics every time. Long may you continue to bring your unique voice to the comedy circuit Shazia and don't let these idiots bring you down.
Reg - 11/09/2008
Hit the nail on the head Sarah. For anyone interested in this growing debate have a look at Shazia's column in the New Statesman 28 Aug 2008, it makes for interesting reading, as do the comments posted there. But judging by the gossip I overheard about this very topic at a recent little quiet comedy evening, I'd say people are now laughing at Chortle's transparent stupidity as much as they are at the great comics listed on the site - think Emperor's new clothes!
Sarah - 09/09/2008
This is an unbelievable review! Either the writer has had their sense of humour surgically removed or simply never saw the show - I know cos I went to it. It was laugh all the way, we thought she was nearly the best out of the six shows we saw (and then second only to Andrew Maxwell and Joan Rivers) We admired her show for being almost sex and swear free - tricky to find on the fringe these days! so I cant understand what this person is talking about! I know everyone has different taste, but if Chortle can be so wide of the mark on a act like this one - it begs the question; can we rely on their view about any comedian any more? We certainly wont be, this review frankly tells us a great deal more about the writer then it does about Mirza.
Alan - 05/09/2008
I am a comic and I just can't bear to see this constant bullying of Shazia Mirza by Chortle. It has now become so obvious and painful to watch. This review is just not true, it's someone with an agenda. No wonder no one respects this website or the opinions on it.
Sally Picklebottom - 18/08/2008
The blacklash against Shazia Mirza is tiresome and repetitive, like having Shaddap Your Face on a continuous loop with a huge cock shaped scratch down the middle of the vinyl. 1 star reviews are the brand-mark of an act that is purely mediocre - simultaneously alienating and offending the audience with little in the way of jokes, material and performance Shazia is never going to get a 5 star review. But what she doesn't deserve is this total character assassination at every turn. By my calculations this is sixth or seventh Edinburgh show, of which she usually sells out. Please save 1 stars for the shows that deserve it. I want to look forward to my 1 star reviews of Open Mic acts throwing raw meat at the audience - or a montage of 'characters' in a one-man show (when the only accent the act can perform is a mixture of Irish-Bangledeshi) Don't waste my valuable one-star reading time in this way.
Mac - 18/08/2008
Well done for Chortle finally acknowledging what most of us have known for years - that Mirza's high media profile is completely disproportionate to her abysmal lack of talent as a comedian.