Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shappi Khorsandi and Russell Kane at the Newbury Comedy Festival

For the third night in a row it was back to New Greenham Arts to review a double bill of comedy and certainly the best I've seen so far during the Newbury Comedy Festival.

Shappi Khorsandi and Russell Kane
New Greenham Arts

With disarming warmth and a flirtatious smile a heavily pregnant Shappi Khorsandi charmed the audience sufficiently that she could have probably gotten away with murder; instead she just chose some outrageous jokes that might have offended from a less enchanting comic.

Iranian born and brought up in a Christian school, she was on solid ground for some wry and sometimes insightful take on cultural differences and prejudices, and offered some challenging views on racism – even her own accidental racism, illustrated with some cringing anecdotes. She is clearly a very talented comic and one I’d like to see again.

Russell Kane burst onto the comedy scene at the Edinburgh Festival last year and has since picked up a slew of awards and it was easy to see why; his high energy performance left you breathless and gasping as another superb observation or aside threw you into spasms of laughter.

He engaged with many audience members, but with deference and friendliness that seems rare among comedians looking for the put down laugh. And each foray into the crowd would send him careering down the path of another anecdote or aside that seemed genuinely spontaneous.

Kane also mixed some sketches into the act with the help of Sadie Hasler, bringing his rapier wit to play on the foibles of Essex and introducing us to ‘Fakespeare’, a cracking blend of the Bard and the worst estuary English. Inspired!

Something that both Khorsandi & Kane (who with name power like that should consider launching a law firm together in the unlikely event their comedy ever fails) had going for them was the cutting edge freshness that came with trying out new ideas destined for next month’s Edinburgh Festival, one of the best aspects of many of the acts at the Newbury Comedy Festival.

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