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Naz Osmanoglu: 100% Awesome

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

‘My mum comes from one place; my dad comes from another place’ is always a common theme for Edinburgh debutants of mixed heritage, as they start to work out who they are comedically.

In this, Naz Osmanoglu has a definite edge, as he is a prince among men – quite literally. He is a member of the Ottoman dynasty, an impressive 19th in line to the Turkish throne. (For comparison, 19th in line to the British throne is 12-year-old Arthur Chatto, Princess Margaret’s grandson.) It would be even more impressive had Turkey not abolished the sultanate in 1922, so rendering the line of succession redundant.

So, in this enjoyable self-anaylsis, Osmanoglu examines the two sets of genes in his DNA: the well-to-do English side, and the fearsome Turkish warlord. So although he tackles such ethnic comedy staples as his father’s struggles with the English language, at its heart Osmanoglu’s show is about the two very different ideas of masculinity held by those cultures.

Not that the Turks have full ownership of the aggressive alpha-male; Osmanoglu’s trademark routine is about rugged English survivalist Bear Grylls. The macho behaviour he imagines is hilarious, even if goes on a tad too long – surely only because Osmanoglu loves rolling the name ‘Bear Grylls’ around.

He has a commanding, fiery delivery, perhaps handed down from generations of scimitar-wielding sultans yelling ‘death to the infidels!’, which he uses to breathe life into his stories. The anecdote about becoming an unwitting part of an Amsterdam floor show – which gives new meaning to the word ‘headbanging’ – is an especially memorable one.

Despite his best efforts, the show has the feel of club sets stuck together, and anyone who has seen Osmanoglu on the circuit in the past few years will recognise much of this material, but the strong central core holds it all together well. An interlude involving various uses of a towel doesn’t exactly fit in the narrative, mind, and is a rather odd addition.

Everything is brought to a close in a memorable finale, which owes some debt to Stewart Lee’s recent technique of apparently having a near-breakdown on stage, but it serves to tie up the story strands in a satisfying way.

The hour flies by as Osmanoglu proves he is a Turkish delight, worthy of all the tips for success he has been garnering. You might disagree with the percentage, but he certainly has the potential for awesomeness.

Review date: 20 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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