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Akmal

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Hilary Wardle

Akmal is regularly described as ‘hilarious’ by his many Aussie fans, but after witnessing his disorganised, rambling performance in rainy old Scotland you can’t help but wonder if he left his joke book on the plane. Although there are a few funny moments, the majority of his show is disjointed, incoherent and – at times- just plain annoying.

Although he’s clearly convinced that his jokes about race and religion are edgy, a lot feel stale, leaving the sense he’s been doing the same material the same way for far too long.

A substantial chunk of the show revolves around questioning the front row and using their replies to launch himself into part-improvised, meandering anecdotes that he struggles to rein in or control. What’s worse, he seems to find to steer his improvised sections full circle and return to the point of departure, ending up in comedy cul-de-sacs that you’d think an experienced comedian like Akmal should be able to avoid.

Audience participation plays a big part in his act, so it’s a bit odd that he doesn’t seem to be particularly good at it. It doesn’t help that he makes a point of picking on people who look as if they’re not paying attention: for example anyone who’s fidgeting, clearly not enjoying themselves or checking their phone. Sometimes this works fairly well and it pulls people back from the brink of boredom, but more often it makes for uncomfortable not-quite-banter that doesn’t really cement his relationship with the audience despite the fact that it’s clearly intended to put us at our ease.

It’s a bit of a shame really as Akmal is- at heart- a charismatic, likeable man (despite his frequent cries of ‘fuck off!’ and ‘shut up!’) who manages to conjure up quite a few laughs, but he’s let down by a lack of structure, lack of focus and flabby material. He feels like an overhyped, overconfident comedian who’s managed to convince himself that his show is seasoned, polished and well-honed when in fact he’s stuck in a bit of a rut and could do with a change.

Perhaps Akmal should have spent August brushing up on current comedy trends and sprucing up his act instead of bringing this out of shape show to the Fringe.

Review date: 23 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Hilary Wardle

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