Shappi Khorsandi: Oh My Country! From Morris Dancing to Morrissey

In a very personal set, Shappi talks growing up in Britain as the child of refugee parents and being English. Her topics include accents, skinheads, Furries, cultural differences, so called ‘British Values’, and her relationship with her family. This is a powerful set that couldn’t have come to audiences at a more appropriate time. Touching in parts, and brilliantly funny, Shappi’s show is well worth viewing this Fringe.

Stories about her parents are told with an air of familial pride, and are excellently chosen

Her set begins by delving into her childhood memories, as she talks about the first time she encountered a skinhead and really experienced racism. Though told comedically, this story has serious undertones and sets up identity as one of the many themes explored throughout the performance, as Shappi questions what it is to feel English. Especially given that the the things England is best known for, namely tea and Morris Dancing, aren’t actually very English at all.

Stories about her parents are told with an air of familial pride, and are excellently chosen. Similarly, her tales about her own children are, though very exaggerated, rather endearing and wonderfully funny. She describes her son as being very British, and her daughter is very Iranian in their attitudes and outlooks, which allows for some hilarious commentary.

Difference is another important theme to the show. The differences between the British and Iranian attitude to funerals and divorce have led Shappi into some hilariously awkward situations with friends. These anecdotes have the audience cringing with embarrassment for her. So too do descriptions of her her first and latest introduction to Jeremy Corbyn, who apparently has the memory of an elephant. Her delivery of these tales is perfectly pitched.

Shappi, appropriately, takes a serious tone when she discusses the time she spent visiting the Calais Jungle, and meeting its many occupants. This part of the performance brings her set together beautifully as she impresses just how incredible our British passports are, in terms of the freedoms they allow us. This is a reflective point in the performance, which really makes you think about her material as more than simple jokes for laughs. There is a serious message behind Shappi’s comedy, and the ending is perfectly designed with an anecdote that is as funny as it is sweet.

Reviews by Ailish George

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Shappi is reclaiming patriotism. She's celebrating her 40th year in Britain with a love letter to her adopted land. Skinheads welcome. Star of BBC’s Live at the Apollo and Radio 4’s Shappi Talk. Author of the bestseller A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English and Nina is not OK. ‘She has plenty to say, and says it with pointedness and potency’ (Guardian). ‘Has the crowd in the palm of her hand’ (List).

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