Sameena Zehra: Homicidal Pacifist

Who hasn’t thought about culling parts of the human race? I have and I’m practically an angel! Surely even the greatest pacifist can’t resist, with the forces of UKIP at large. But what do I know; this is Sameena Zehra’s area of expertise. Out on a mission to do just that, Zehra has put a great deal of thought into who she doesn’t like, and her list is awfully extensive. A fiery political preacher, Zehra is a clever comedian with a cracking concept. There’s only one problem: it’s just not very funny.

The intellectual maturity is clear and there is a well thought-out thematic progression.

An enjoyable storyteller who brands herself a secular socialist, Zehra has bags to say about religious freedom, feminism and our wonderful politicians. While I largely agree with her often predictable rhetoric, the humour doesn’t strike me as the show’s main priority. Zehra has a fantastic comedic talent and elements of her material shows an ability to write enjoyable comedy, but it’s all a little too political and too predictable to pay off.

In her fourth Edinburgh Fringe, Zehra has built a reputation as a ballsy, risk-taking comedian with her own brand of dark humour. While her homicidal set has elements of this, the material falls on the brighter side of dark comedy and rarely puts itself out there. Zehra has a wonderful honesty and builds an admirable relationship with her audience, but little is really laugh-out-loud funny. Achieving a consistent giggle, the first half is enjoyable and humorous, but the laughs wear thin as the material becomes more politically charged.

She performed the same show in 2014, so Homicidal Pacifist is now in its more complete form. While the intellectual maturity is clear and there is a well thought-out thematic progression, I’m surprised at a certain lack of ingenuity in Zehra’s ideas. Often sounding like the words from a Jeremy Corbyn press release, the heavily political set has insufficient insight to justify the lack of comedy. Her culling list is amusing but she doesn’t take it far enough. I’m still up for starting a culling list, but I might not leave it to Zehra.

2 Stars

Reviews by Max Falkenberg

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The Blurb

'The political heart of (Bill Hicks) ... brave, funny, fiery and true' (Herald). 'Outstanding ... unabashed and unashamed’ **** (RipItUp.com.au). The internationally acclaimed show from a pacifist (what?) with a culling list, is back. Combining the weight of political opinions with her particular brand of caustic, dark humour, in a ‘playfully demonic’ (Tony Allen) show that explores the sublime, the ridiculous, and whether there is hope for the human race. A whirlwind hour of comedy and storytelling that will have you exploring your inner homicidal pacifist as you pen a culling list of your own.