Aatif Nawaz: Instant GrAATIFication | Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson
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Aatif Nawaz: Instant GrAATIFication

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson

An entitled millennial with career aspirations, Aatif Nawaz has belatedly enjoyed some success as an actor, with an Easyjet commercial under his belt. He also maintains that he has just had a BBC sitcom audition, as he twists the supposed premise into one of the misdirection jokes of the Fringe.

That's the high point of a show that seems to reflect the married Nawaz's contentment with his lot at 33, barring a few niggles. Proudly Pakistani above all else, he's delighted with the election of Imran Khan. A celebrity premiership that he insists is nothing like the rise of Donald Trump, with Khan a long-time career politician who's paid his dues. Pakistan have also just made an international splash in football. A modest one to be sure, but you take your victories where you can find them.

Until now, Nawaz has had an arrogant impatience for everything, as fast as possible. Falling in love at 21, he was faced with the dilemma of renouncing Islam's rejection of alcohol by the manipulative object of his affections, a test he passed on one level while failing miserably on another.

Angry and horny, he challenges the apparent cliché that Pakistanis and Muslims in particular don't like sex, arguing the statistics, while sympathising with the brutal romance options of the Tinder generation following him.

His addiction to a computer game brought him into conflict with one of his oldest friends, Causing A Scene at the poor man's birthday party. But although Nawaz can be quite cynical in his contrived setups, evoking scenarios that a moment's pause would suggest never happened, here at least he follows through on the face-saving logic of his fury for a disproportionately amusing overreaction to being proved in the wrong.

Less palatable, especially given how much he claims to adore his wife, is his seemingly noble sentiment to want to adopt children, which he then twists into the stock laddish banter of not wishing to see your favourite hostelry destroyed – fnarr, fnarr – made all the grimmer for him not making the gag explicit but rather a nudge-nudge allusion for all the other blokes in the room.

Elsewhere, his supposedly progressive, prejudice-free friendship with a gay Muslim seems equally calculated in the way he wheedles it round to a line that essentially equates homosexuality with deviance.

That's a shame because Aawaz is capable of material about falling in love and friendship that sounds genuine, of romance thwarted by circumstances, far more effective for its apparent authenticity.

Just as his protests about not wanting to talk about Trump ring hollow, so too do his claims about not wishing to tackle Islamophobia. He ends with a retrospective routine about his stand-up origins, an explosively funny pullback and reveal that proves him to be an inveterate charlatan, something he might need to cop to more regularly and honestly if he's going to take his comedy to the next level.

Review date: 22 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Stand 3 and 4

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