Comedy review: Ayesha Hazarika: State of the Nation

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Before she became a Scotsman columnist and TV newspaper reviewer, Ayesha Hazarika was a special adviser with the Labour Party.

Gilded Balloon at the Museum (Venue 64)


From 2007 to 2015 she worked under leaders Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and deputy leader Harriet Harman, so she’s seen a lot. Much of it was outside “the room” – said space being the inner sanctum where the big decisions are made.

The first big decision made by Labour seems to have been to keep the girls out – for a while it looked like Hazarika, the Glaswegian daughter of immigrants from India, would never be invited to sit alongside “Bob, Tom and Simon,” as it seemed all the other advisers – half her age and twice as posh – were named. But she finally found her way inside and was even invited to contribute. By pouring the tea. Hazarika is terrific company – relaxed, mischievous and with a mind like a steel trap. Yes, she’ll pour the tea for numpties who assume that’s a woman’s role, but only for long enough to get their measure. So after a while she was indeed at the heart of Labour election campaigns, riding that famous pink people carrier and being bemused by mugs basically declaring their user a tad racist. For a few minutes in the latter half Hazarika sets jokes to one side and talks of the inequalities she encountered riding that bus during the 2015 General Election, and it’s powerful stuff… but did the male bosses listen to her?

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It’s not all politics – we hear of her feisty father, her brother’s insensitive in-laws, how Twitter brought her a boyfriend. At heart, though, Hazarika is a political animal, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised were she one day to become a politician. For now, though, it’s stand-up rather than standing for office,
Ayesha Hazarika is definitely in the room – go and see what she has to say.

Until 20 August. Today 7:30pm.