There’s inherent absurdity in an industry which charges elderly people and their families countless thousands of pounds for care but pays a pittance to the often-underqualified staff who are responsible for looking after them. It’s an irrationality which Bilal Zafar experienced first-hand during his time as a care worker, and it sits at the heart of his new show. By exploring his experiences, and the consequences of such an illogical set-up, the comedian provides a nicely nuanced slice of observational comedy with a good serving of heart.
A nicely nuanced slice of observational comedy with a good serving of heart
After arriving on the stage, Zafar quickly establishes an effortlessly charming presence and builds audience rapport with some assured material about having material, a remarkable display of eyebrow dexterity accompanied by a couple of joke-laden anecdotes about his family, and a story of the stress of facing illogical payment demands from a power company. The comic successfully picks out some surreal silliness from his experiences, and there are plenty of laughs to be found.
From there he gets into the main body of the work, discussing his time working for a care home and encountering wisecracking octogenarians, jobsworth managers, and employee incentive schemes which slap a delightfully cheap veneer on a depressingly exploitative reality. The stories get a little longer and although the narrative never gets lost, it does gently stumble occasionally as the comic jumps about in the tale and retrospectively adds bits to build up his anecdotes. It detracts from the momentum of the show, but as this run goes on and the delivery becomes more natural and practised, I expect the performance will go from strength to strength.
Zafar is at his best drily teasing out the sublimely silly from situations he’s been in, and there are plenty of those to be found when a fresh-faced 21-year-old with a media degree is put in charge of people with four times as much life under their belts. With Care, he has created an entertaining and more importantly funny show which reveals a likeable and talented stand-up.