Samuel Gebreselassie: I'm a Refugee... Get Me Out of Here! | Melbourne International Comedy Festival review
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Samuel Gebreselassie: I'm a Refugee... Get Me Out of Here!

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review

Oh no, not another half-Ethiopian, half-Eritrean comic, who was born in a Sudanese refugee camp  raised in New Zealand, worked in China and now lives in Australia.

In a comedy scene where identity is the top talking point, Samuel Gebreselassie has filled his bingo card. And it’s a background he explores with wit and grace for his debut show, from the privilege his Anglicised first name gives him compared to siblings such as Tsige or colleague Mustafa to the inevitable ‘where are you REALLY from?’ interrogations, 

With a chilled stage presence, he mocks the ignorance and biases he experiences daily with a gentle, patient charm. In his set-up, he likens his comedy to someone pulling up a partner on their irritating behaviour. ‘I’m not attacking, I just want to make our relationship better,’ he says. Ah, casual racism, the ‘leaving the toilet seat up’ of social cohesion.

Visit Melbourne Melbourne International Comedy FestivvalMelbourne International Comedy Festiva news and reviews with Visit VictoriaBut he’s true to his word, and making cheerful but sardonic jokes out of everyday irritants invites white audience members to get a glimpse into his world while eliciting laughs of knowing recognition from everyone else.

We learn too, about his father, an old-school parent who somehow found himself arrested for espionage – and there’s undoubtedly a whole other show in this. Gebreselassie is already a compelling storyteller, and he reveals enough of this tale to intrigue.

The writing could be a bit tighter, and a few routines outstay their welcome – most notably an early one about the name he wasn’t given, and an analogy about the ‘Michael Jordan of racism’, far too convoluted to get into here. But even when he meanders, his easy command of the room ensures we entrust him to get back on course, and he always does.

I’m A Refugee... Get Me Out of Here! is an assured debut, establishing Gebreselassie as a stand-up with much to offer, who knows what he’s doing, and who has the potential to deliver even more as his talents develop.

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Review date: 12 Apr 2024
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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