British Muslim Comedy | Review of the new iPlayer shorts by Steve Bennett

British Muslim Comedy

Note: This review is from 2015

Review of the new iPlayer shorts by Steve Bennett

Does the i stand for Islam? To mark the star of Ramadan, the BBC has released five shorts from Muslim comedians on the iPlayer platform.

It's a noble bid to get more diversity of voices heard, even if iPlayer always feels like a ghetto away from the mainstream. Billing this series as specifically 'British Muslim Comedy', and releasing it now, also creates a narrow focus, so all these performers remain identified only with their religion.

It means there's a slight 'education can be fun' tone to some of the offerings, particularly as they explain to non-believers that fasting isn't just about food, it's about abstaining from all sorts of sinful behaviours, from swearing to flirting.

Here's our view of the shorts , all made by leading comedy production house Baby Cow.

Prince Abdi: My First Fast: Perhaps inspired by Chris Rock's Everybody Hates Chris, Prince Abdi goes into flashback mode to tells us the story of his first abstention, back in the late 1980s, when he was seven years old. Essentially this is an extended montage scene with the face of his nagging dad acting as his conscience whenever temptation came his way. It's neatly done, and visually strong, if not hilarious. Link

Tez Ilyas: The Fast and the Fool: Another short based around temptation, as stand-up Ilyas has to refrain as the workplace doughnuts come around, or even following up on his office crush. There are smiles to be had with the wry commentary and imagined sequences that run through his mind – especially when he uses his hunger pangs as an excuse for being a git. The message at the end could probably remain unsaid, but it's entertaining. Link

Guz Khan: Roadman Ramadan: Mobeen, aka Guzzy Bear, has a reasonably successful go at converting his streetwise video blogs into something more televisual. This uses his newly converted Scottish friend Trev (James Allenby-Kirk, as seem as Jeff the Chef in the comedy Gary: Tank Commander) as a cypher as he guides him through his first Ramadan – again reminding him of the greater scope of abstention. Guzzy's joyous energy and lively slang bolster the sketch, buoying it with charm and goodwill. Link

Sadia Azmat: Things I Have Been Asked As A British Muslim: This one feels a little bit more like the lighthearted films they sometimes have on to introduce issues on the Daily Politics than it does a great comic diatribe. Azmat complains about the things that annoy her, such as the assumption, common among minorities, that everything she says is true of all 1.5billion Muslims. The empty headscarfs were, however, a memorable image. Link

Asim and Sadia Chaudhry: Eid Mubarak: After the famine, a feast, as awkward lanky white dude Max (Steve Stamp) gets invited to a family Eid al-Fitr celebration to mark the end of the holy month. This has the makings of a sitcom pitch, not least from Asim Chaudhry's character Uncle Tony, an Asian Del Boy – more financially astute than Peckham's finest but possessing no more taste, spending his hard-earned on gold-plated fishtanks. There are a couple of nice lines, the trying-too-hard-to-fit-in Max calling samosas 'triangle spring rolls', for instance – and this is a premise with potential. Link.

Review date: 18 Jun 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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