Funmbi Omotayo: Legal Immigrant | Review by Paul Fleckney © Steve Ullathorne
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Funmbi Omotayo: Legal Immigrant

Note: This review is from 2015

Review by Paul Fleckney

Given how race and racial tensions are in the news so much, it’s noticeable how very few comedians actually talk about it. It’s a ruddy minefield of a subject, of course, but even so. So it’s such a refreshing change to have mild-mannered debutant Funmbi Omotayo spend virtually his entire show on the subject.

In fairness, he’s a uniquely qualified: he’s a second generation immigrant living in London, and he moved to Nigeria with his parents at the age to ten, returning six years later for being ‘too naughty’. He speaks about the changing face of East London, where Costas are replacing takeaways, and what it was like trying to fit in as the new boy at a school in Lagos.

If anything, his story is more interesting than he gives it credit for. His gentle delivery underplays the drama of facing corporal punishment at school in Nigeria, the interminable powercuts, the walking to a well to get some water. Given how warm and soporific this particular room is, we could have done with a little dramatic impact, so there’s a bit of a wasted opportunity here.

He’s a good joke-writer, even if sometimes they actually reinforce old stereotypes of black and white – I suspect this is a bit of comedic pragmatism, saying something just for the sake of the gag. But he also explores his own ignorance about race, such as when confronted with having to pronounce an eastern European name.

He has some good material on the moral bankruptcy of football – not exclusively about racism, but including the John Terry-Anton Ferdinand incident in 2012. He could’ve done with recapping what exactly happened, as presumably some people won’t know or remember. Likewise he talks about footballer and convicted rapist Ched Evans, assuming people know who he is. It is a bit of a rookie error, but then Funmbi is still a rookie.

Overwhelmingly we needed distraction from the heat of the room. Funmbi has a nice gag on the subject, but it’s not enough. He’s an engaging comic with good material, perhaps it’s not yet in his skill set to be more assertive or more pacey when the situation requires it.

Review date: 12 Aug 2015
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon Teviot

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