Akmal, the Aussie comedian and radio star, returns to the Fringe for another show exploring his fundamentalist Christian upbringing, his race and his views on the world around him. At least, he he tries to. Throughout, Akmal is either forced upon or willingly follows unpredictable and distracting tangents. Maybe fuelled by an audience member or maybe by his own whimsies, off he goes into the abyss and hopes we follow him. Sadly, unlike other comedians whose tangents become ad hoc threads for the entire show, giving each callback a personal and unique feel, Akmal's meanders into the irrelevant normally start with a cliché and end with him shouting 'fuck off' or 'shut up'. Case in point, he spoke to a Glaswegian, he commented he must be in poor health because of all the fried food and then he shouted 'shut up' at the rest of the audience. There is not much comedy to be had from, ironically, such predictability within his unpredictability.
Throughout his tangents he makes reference to his short attention span- perhaps if he reigned this in it could work to his advantage. Instead, through some sort of weird psychotic osmosis, he passes his short attention span onto us and it becomes difficult to concentrate, or indeed care, about his flights of fancy. His set ups are frequently interrupted midway by random sparks and then, after said spark has faded to black, he desperately claws to get back to where he once was though the original joke is already lost. He is like a fat, rich business man leaving his wife because he thinks his younger secretary fancies a bit – the grass might look greener but it's hard to get back when you realise it isn't.
There is no doubt that Akmal is a charismatic entertainer and the occasional well placed punchline and comedic beat reveal that somewhere, underneath the untamed wiles of his scatter-shot delivery and structure, lies a genuinely funny comic. In this year's Fringe entry, though, one can't help but wish for a development within his routine, an overriding arc, a train of thought. The lack of such a thing stops this underwhelming, forgettable show from becoming a much loved hit from a thoroughly likeable stage persona.