Omid Djalili – Live Review – York Grand Opera House
By Roger Crow, February 2017
A few years ago I interviewed David Baddiel about his film The Infidel. He compared leading man Omid Djalili to a big baby, and I can see his point. He’s like the British-Iranian Stewie Griffin: eloquent, intelligent and prone to random acts of shouting.
I’m at the Grand Opera House, York, one of my favourite theatres. It’s the perfect size for stand-ups as it creates such an intimate setting. My last visit was seven years ago when a controversial comic performed such a toxic routine with fearsome security guarding every door, that it left a sour taste in the mouth. No such problems this time thankfully.
Support act Boothby Graffoe does a good job of easing us into the comic proceedings with some sporadically funny moments. Latecomers get to see the opening few minutes again thanks to Groundhog Day-style repetition, which is fun for the first minute. And a gag about one restaurant offering “the authentic American experience” by not letting Omid in has no doubt touched a chord in every town and city the duo have played in over the last few months.
Djalili’s gig is a mostly successful laugh-a-minute one-man show. It addresses the inevitable: an American businessman’s outrageous decisions since becoming a politician. Omid doesn’t so much address the issue head on as skate around it, pirouetting with the skill of Torvill and Dean, though he looks more like Stavros Flatley.
There’s so much political material to deal with since last summer, comedians like Djalili must feel spoilt for choice. Brexit and the new POTUS aside, there are terrific gags and some which veer into uncomfortable territory, like most edgy comedians do.
Whether dealing with transgender issues and his subsequent Twitter clangers or opting for intermittent belly dancing after one-liners (very funny), his material is mostly successful.
Great comedy comes from taking risks. While I might not agree with all of the schtick (it would be a miracle if I did), on the whole it’s a huge success that leaves most of the gig-goers in hysterics.
“The best way to deal with high profile clowns is to laugh at them”
It loses some steam half way through, as many stand-up gigs do. Plus, a routine about football leaves me colder than my freezer. But then again blokes kicking a ball around a field is usually my excuse to do anything else.
Djalili has long been one of Blighty’s best supporting actors in films such as Gladiator, The Mummy, and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Though The Infidel did little to catapult him into leading man status, on stage he’s an A-list star. At a time when fear-mongering seems to be at an all time high, he’s doing a great job of reminding people that the best way to deal with high profile clowns is to laugh at them instead of just getting angry.