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Isma Almas Bombs
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Isma Almas Bombs
Buckle up for this hilarious cultural extravaganza of a white-knuckle comedy ride. One of the most original and charming circuit comedians expertly annihilates whole herds of sacred cows.
Isma Almas Bombs – Fringe 2009
One of the most frustrating things about Shazia Mirza is the sense that she isn't living up to her potential. As a female, Muslim stand-up, she should have a unique and important perspective to share, yet instead she fills her sets with pedestrian material about the horrors of EasyJet and hair removal.
Thankfully, newcomer Isma Almas attempts to fill in the gaps.
Almas is a British Pakistani Muslim who grew up on an all-white estate in Bradford with a fiercely religious father and predictably unwelcoming neighbours.
In a promising Fringe debut, she uses her background as basis for an autobiographical show reminiscent in parts of a post-watershed version of Meera Syal's novel Anita And Me.
With an admirable lightness of touch and air of mischief, Almas is able to touch on some fairly unsavoury topics; the anti-Pakistani signs that greeted her family on arrival in Bradford, their difficulties in trying to blend in, her father's treatment of her mother, who he kept in strict purdah for several years – ‘a bit like that man in Austria, only culturally acceptable’.
She has the rather gentle, encouraging air of a primary school teacher, which can seem at odds with her quietly provocative material. When you're a Muslim woman talking about sexuality, a ready smile and a cute wrinkling of the nose is unlikely to defuse the controversy, so why not just say it without the sweetener?
Almas is a proficient writer but a weaker performer - leaving aside a few really duff gags clearly (a reminder not to confuse purdah with Prada springs to mind), the show has a high proportion of playful, subversive and intelligent material, but you can hear the writing and she lacks conviction in her on-stage persona.
The show could also do with a little editing to weed out the not-quite jokes and give its real gems space to sparkle. But these are all things that can be refined given time. For now, Alma’s charm and freshness mark her out as a tantalising prospect.
|Date of live review: Sunday 16th Aug, '09|
Review by Nione Meakin
What a cheek to use Isma Almas's review to put the boot into Shazia yet again. The Shazia Mirza bashing on this site is frankly bizarre and wierd - it's as if reviewers are constantly looking for any opportunity to use Shazia's name in a negative way. I have seen both Isma and Shazia's act and how you can compare a relative newcomer with an accomplished act in the unfavourable way is fair to neither of them. Outrageous.
Saw Isma Almas yesterday at the stand and was absolutely blown away by her show Bombs. Tight, witty material coupled with a warmth and charm that lures you into a false sense of security so she can hit you with some shocking and outrageous but perfectly timed jokes.