Chelsea Hart – Damet Garm: How I Joined a Revolution | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Chelsea Hart – Damet Garm: How I Joined a Revolution

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Chelsea Hart’s unique blend of comedy and politics is inspiring, exploring the realities women face everyday in Iran, while finding light in the darkness.

They take a moment to warm up, but once they get into their main topic, Hart’s comedic storytelling abilities truly come into their own. They start off by discussing their experiences in a small Alaskan town compared to America and Europe, taking cheap shots at Americans who don’t exercise and Germans who don’t understand comedy.

It seems as if foul language and repetition will be the hallmark of Hart’s comedy. Although it must be noted that their practical joke - tricking the audience into cheering an offensive opera song - was hilarious. 

Despite a rocky start, Hart segues into a fascinating and impressive tale of their experiences as an online Iranian activist.

Hart went viral almost overnight for a TikTok video on Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman whose death sparked protests in September 2019. Driven to post more and more Iranian satire, Hart was exposed to a virtual community that was both loving and toxic, and their ability to draw out the comedy in such a precarious position is to be commended.

They explore a terrible online experience involving an abusive relationship, abortion, and people on social media mocking their tears. Despite the horrifying experience, Hart is able to make jokes about how to improve the suicide prevention line - perhaps by having Goofy on the line - and about their time in a psych ward. Hart laughs at politics, at society, and at themselves. 

Hart exposes a side to Iran that is not often seen - the comedic side. In a darkly comic joke they confide that the reason Iran doesn’t seem to produce many comedians is that their satirists are all executed. The comic covers topics which may seem taboo, talking freely about the atrocities committed by the Supreme Leader, while also mocking him.

A standout anecdote involves an unedited 1960s  version of an Ayatollah’s book which details how a baby conceived with your aunt via an earthquake could be halal - and yes, it is as bizarre and hilarious as it sounds. Hart goes for the shock factor in their comedy, educating but also entertaining. 

Hart’s comedy is already unique, saying the Supreme Leader has ‘small dick energy’ and discussing the beauty of Iranian communities - but they don’t stop there. Hart takes on a group which is not often critiqued at the Fringe - the left wing. The comic’s intriguing take on how Western cultural relativists shield the Iranian government from criticism displays their intimate knowledge of the subject, elevating their comedy and activism. Hart boldly states that ‘death is not a culture’, silencing the audience with their powerful views, before exploring the more hopeful element of their show.

‘Damet Garm’ means ‘may your breath stay warm’, wishing others to stay alive. Hart movingly explains how Iranian protests are about love not hate: about choosing to love your people in the face of death; about moving away from the ‘online activism’ which is often just a spew of hate, and towards enacting change with your community.

Hart’s show contains more activism than comedy, but this is not a bad thing. The ability to engage people on such politically turbulent topics is impressive, as is the ability to create space for people to learn, but also laugh. 

Review date: 26 Aug 2023
Reviewed by:
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon Teviot

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