Shappi Khorsandi

By Lisa Clark

Shappi Khorsandi is one of those enjoyable comedians who make you feel like you are catching up with a friend you only see every couple of years. She even does material about this and her own intermittent friend who she chose to be her birthing buddy for her new baby after the father piked out. Yes a lot has happened since we last saw Shappi and as jet-lagged as she is, she’s going to regale us with some pretty juicy stories, interesting theories and even a bit of surprisingly blue material that seems to surprise her more than it does us.

Her last show in Australia Me and My Brother In Our Pants, Holding Hands in 2012, spoke more about her amazing childhood as an English immigrant from Iran and about being a mother in a marriage that’s falling apart. She also covered some ground that she goes over in her current show, such the difficulties in dating as a single mum, but her 2012 show had a lot more depth to it and the surprise ending of having just started a relationship with a woman. In part of the whole catching up thing, she lets us know pretty early that that relationship didn’t last.

I first came to know Shappi through her fabulous autobiography A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English. Her comedic storytelling skills are clearly inherited from her famous father who fled Iran with his family because of his comedy writing. Shappi touches on her past with her material on refugees. It’s hard to tell if she knows what a hot political topic that is here, but she’s not aggressive about it and finds a very appreciative audience.

Shappi is not a shouty or angry comedian but she manages to cover a lot of controversial ground and while occasionally garnering gasps of horror she maintains just right light touch to make it all palatable and keep the show in a fun mood. Her last section about sex, which she sizzles early on, is also about her vague theme of being free to speak up as well as feeling more comfortable about your sexuality as you get older.

Like all her previous work this show has a lot of great jokes and ideas, it’s clear that Shappi is a talented, entertaining, comedian with a lot of experience but the show itself could use a director to get it into some sort of shape. It’s very funny, charming and spicy, but also a bit scrappy and all over the place. Yet, it still manages to be a fun show to take your friends to. Considering Shappi is a sleep deprived new mother with two kids trying to put on a Festival show on the other side of the world, a bit of scrappiness, with so many great stories and laughs, is pretty forgivable.

Shappi Khorsandi is on at Melb Town Hall until April 13