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Shappi Khorsandi: Dirty Looks And Hopscotch

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Alex Mason

If you've seen Shappi Khorsandi on Live at the Apollo or Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow you could be forgiven for pegging her as a  safe and bland mainstream comic whose sole shtick is centred on her unusual cultural heritage.

Khorsandi has always had the talent, but has traditionally chained it to a ludicrously small repertoire of topics. Thankfully in this show she branches out with a tale of naivety and deception, though no apparent hopscotch.

It's a sad story of Khorsandi unwittingly having an affair with a rock star after being taken in by his lifestyle and sexual experience. The tale, spread throughout the set, is engaging but doesn't seem entirely believable. It's difficult to tell what's embellished or invented, which wouldn't usually matter but the emotive tone necessitates a certain level of confidence.

Despite the daring tone, a lot of the material is the standard brand of safe and easy. There's the usual bullshit bingo of passing shots and cheeky gags among the more serious stuff; when a joke starts with a drunken encounter with a puppeteer the entire audience can guess where things are heading.

The delivery is polished and the punchlines do hit, but it feels all a bit too homogenised with surgical pacing designed to extract maximum impact. It's what people expect, but perhaps not what they crave. It'd be nice to see something a little rougher and less orchestrated, as each revelation is sold to you and it all feels less confessional and more light theatre.

There's lots of other jokes sprinkled around, including great gags on her son's choice of playmate, embarrassing childhood incidents, and a quick lesson in bondage 101. A minor sexual awakening is referenced along with the decadence of her ex-boyfriend, but stops short of really shocking the audience.

Towards the end Khorsandi mentions a lesbian relationship, which is interesting but again suffers from the nagging feeling it only made it in to make the whole thing seem more evocative and to avoid having to really open up.

Overall a set with great gags, but even greater potential that's been deliberately unrealised.

Review date: 17 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Alex Mason
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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