The Fringe is big on categorising. With over three thousand shows on offer it has to be. And when it comes to comedy it’s exactly what most punters want. Irish, Scottish, Australian, Romanian comedy? British Muslim, perhaps? I think we can find something for you in the listings… Useful advice or lazy stereotyping?
Funnily enough that’s what Aatif Nawaz’s new show is all about. Before the show starts we’re all asked to write down the worst piece of advice we’ve ever been given. The results are looked at after Aatif has nicely warmed up the audience with easy banter and genuine interest in the people he’s speaking to (a far cry from the false bonhomie or condescending clichés trotted out by some comedians when ‘connecting’ with an audience). Of course a bit of business like this can be a hit or a miss – the comments on this night were a mix of the funny and the obscure – but Aatif managed to wring comic value out of all of them.
As for the lazy stereotyping Aatif rails against that – in particular lazy journalism when it comes to the way that Muslims are depicted. But there are more general observations about the Trump thing and the Brexit thing which unites the audience made up of Scots, English, Americans, Muslims, Christians and no religion. He focuses on a small group of Americans and a couple of Muslim guys from Leeds to underscore his material but there are neat ad-libs aplenty.
Aatif strikes a good balance between having a structured routine and free-wheeling with the audience. There are one or two edgier ‘bomb’ jokes and when they do exactly that he moves swiftly on. I guess we were quite a nice and non-edgy audience but I get the impression that Aatif could handle hecklers with confident ease. He has a lovely relaxed style which lends a definite feel-good factor and stays with you after the 45 minutes. Definitely not a lazy comedian!
(Review for 7 Aug)