Comedy review: Shappi Khorsandi: Oh My Country! From Morris Dancing to Morrissey

Shappi Khorsandi
Shappi Khorsandi
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A decade after her Fringe breakthrough show Asylum Speaker, Shappi Khorsandi delivers an unofficial follow-up, a passionate love letter to the England she calls home.

Shappi Khorsandi: Oh My Country! From Morris Dancing to Morrissey

The Stand Comedy Club 
(Venue 5)

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A decade after her Fringe breakthrough show Asylum Speaker, Shappi Khorsandi delivers an unofficial follow-up, a passionate love letter to the England she calls home.

Culture clash and her absorption into British society have been a recurring feature of her stand-up since she first arrived on stage. But the EU referendum result, the migrant crisis and the rise of the far-right in Europe make her story feel all the more timely.

Of any nation’s character, Englishness is perhaps one of the trickiest to define, not least in Scotland. Too often it’s characterised by what it’s not rather than the apologetic politeness and decency that she prefers to focus on.

Khorsandi isn’t wearing rose-tinted spectacles though, recalling the abuse she received as a child from skinheads and the way “Irish” was, until relatively recently, a synonym for stupid. But predominantly through the music of Billy Bragg, she found an England that she could be proud of and grateful for, accentuating her cut-glass accent and imbuing her red-covered British passport with almost spiritual significance – especially when her asylum story is contrasted with that of the stranded migrant children she meets in Calais.

Of course, her identity incorporates her Iranian roots too, and her two young children project both sides of her inheritance, her repressed, little gentleman son and screaming, melodramatic daughter, also manifestations of the sliding scale of performance intensity that their mother unleashes on stage.

Expanding her patriotism to her relationships and encounters with the likes of Bragg and Jeremy Corbyn, for all of her performer’s ego, Khorsandi is naturally outward looking.

A thoughtful observer of the multicultural cracks in modern Britain, she ultimately arrives at a moment of bittersweet self-affirmation during a heated incident on public transport.

Jay Richardson

Until 28 August. Today 8:30pm.