Sami Abu Wardeh: Bedu | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Sami Abu Wardeh: Bedu

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

It’s a confident clown who hands out his own tomatoes at the beginning of the show, and they’re even nice and ripe, which is surely going to hurt more if one makes contact with your eye. Sami Abu Wardeh uses the fruit as an intermission game, trying to catch them in his mouth while squirming into different costumes from one character to the next.

He’s created a loose show built around the joy of movement and dance, just about sidestepping accusations of mime (not that it’s the dirty word it once was). The comic jokes early on that ‘we all use dance in our day-to-day lives’ but it’s actually true for his characters, who are united by expressive, rhythmic and flamboyant movements.

It’s probably not a coincidence that his strongest character, Giralomo, is explicitly described as a dancer, but even the secretly-Christian Swedish sauna attendant throws himself around the stage to pretty much the same degree. It’s a great way for Wardeh to gently distinguish himself among character comedians, and give this grab-bag show its own identity.

Starting in a burst of energy, spitting toms and banging drums, Wardeh takes us through some great character sketches, loosely tied together by the notion that these are people who he met on the cruise ship that took him to England from Palestine.

Between sketches: further sketches, which is a useful tactic for varying the pace and allows him to slip in and out of his less surefire hits, such as politely roasting his audience for not subscribing to Palestinian traditions of hospitality. Using a soft Middle Eastern accent as a cover, he teases his audience like a Turkish ice cream salesman, embarking on a vivid act-out of a sheep’s death convulsions, ‘better than an English person dancing’.

It’s lovely stuff, especially as his dance becomes more expressive, such as in the highlight in which he improvises choreography for the Shawshank Redemption, doing the worm to freedom through a shit-filled sewage pipe.

Recognition is also due for his in-character play about Moses, during which he pulls the single funniest face I’ve seen for years. The hoarse Spanish guitar player ends the show on probably its weakest note, but even this character is full of small charms, spitting out an endless supply of cigarettes in shock as he peers into the musical aura of his audience.

• Sami Abu Wardeh: Bedu is on at Underbelly Cowgate at 8.10pm

Review date: 13 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Tim Harding
Reviewed at: Underbelly Cowgate

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