Eshaan Akbar: Not For Prophet | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett
review star review star review half star review blank star review blank star

Eshaan Akbar: Not For Prophet

Note: This review is from 2017

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett

Eshaan Akbar is a solid new act, with a few unexpected punchlines and an understated poise in his conversational delivery.

But his debut hour, after three and a half years as a comic, lacks a sense of purpose. It’s a light autobiographical meander through his life, mildly funny but posing no risk to your ribs, which seems to exist only because of a career need to do an hour for Edinburgh at this stage, not for any greater imperative.

At the end, you’ve been pleasantly amused, got to know him a bit, and come to quite like him before going, unmoved, on to the next show.

Briefly, those autobiographical details are that Akbar’s dad is from Pakistan, his mum from Bangladesh, and as pushy as any Asian mother, with ‘crazy aspirations’ for her son to achieve the pinnacle in whatever endeavour he chose.

Akbar worked for a while as a wealth manager, helping celebrities worth £5million-plus cut back on their tax bills, with not many gags from the time save for some fairly typical quips about office life: ‘You’ll work with a lot of… what are they called? Ah yes! Twats.’ 

There’s also some straightforward nostalgia comedy about catching the free, unscrambled previews of porn TV channels back in the pre-internet days and him being caught out watching Virgins Or Robin Hood 2 (shouldn’t that be ‘Throbbin’ Hood’?). And a joke about the translated meaning of his name that’s near-identical to an Omid Djalili one.

He’s at his best when he plays a little with racial stereotypes, either voicing what we’re thinking or tilting at our expectations, and the most interesting section is probably about how he lapsed out of the Islamic faith he was brought up with, including a couple of strong punchlines about the Muslim version of Tinder. He’s got maybe eight such great gags across the show, but there’s a reason the phrase is ‘laugh-a-minute’ not ‘laugh-every-seven-minutes’.

He deploys all the learned comedy techniques. Putting part of a story early doors and ending it later, to give the illusion of structure, especially when you add some callbacks. Also the audience-engaging habit of saying ’Give me a cheer if you…’ by way of introducing each new subject. Though it backfires when he says ‘…grow your own vegetables’ and a woman cheerfully says she does, her helpful, upbeat contribution temporarily throwing Akbar who wanted to segue into a routine attacking it as a hipster affectation.   

At the end he tells tries to impose a theme, telling us sincerely: ‘This is what the show’s about - to have fun with identity’ spelling out what doesn’t need to be spelled out as a musical callback swells beneath. It's somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but even so it seems slightly cynical attempt at adding heft to an enjoyable, but insubstantial hour.

Review date: 5 Aug 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.