Pleasance, Edinburgh
August, 2002

**** Anglo-Iranian comic hits the spot

Djalili, a familiar face if not name through "comedy Arab" parts in several blockbuster movies, turns in a beautifully sharp set.

This is quite an immodest review. Two years ago I wrote of Djalili that he kept "reminding us that he's a nice chap really. But we don't really need reminding; his affability shines through even in his most mordant moments. If he were to trust himself to be consistently as sharp as he obviously can be, he could become rather special." When I met him earlier this year, he told me he'd specifically taken those remarks on board. I'm extremely happy to say I was right: this year's show works an absolute treat.

He begins, as usual, with ten minutes or so in a heavy Iranian accent before reverting to his natural voice but now the material is sharper, more biting. Perhaps around half the set is inspired directly or indirectly by the September 11 events, but this isn't dreary worthiness or tired "topicality". Djalili can, on the one hand, explain how al-Qaida members aren't actually Afghans by teaching us about different Farsi dialects (Afghans, he says, are "the Geordies of the Farsi world"), and on the other go into quite surreal extended riffs. Even his self-deprecating gags seem to have more teeth, and paradoxically he is all the more lovable for it. A hit.

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Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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