FRINGE REVIEW – Shappi Khorsandi: The Moon on a Stick

*****

7 – 30 Aug 1950 (2050) @ Pleasance Beyond

In the sweltering heat of the Pleasance Beyond, Shappi Khorsandi pulled off being bitter but still funny, catty but still someone you’d like as your friend, and filthy but still sweet.
 
She claims at the very beginning to have devised a show which was a bit different – that she hasn’t had time to put anything together about being Iranian, or even on current affairs, because this year she has mainly been preoccupied in getting a divorce. For those who are uncomfortable with change, fear not. This wasn’t quite true. Her Iranian heritage inspires a sizeable chunk of the show, and she has a whole joke which wouldn’t have happened but for the election. Mainly though, she really is very evidently going through a divorce.
 
This is a lady who somehow manages to make comedy material out of topics that, under any other circumstances, would be serious conversation-killers. How funny is bulimia? Not very. How funny is getting a divorce? Pretty thin on jokes. How funny is Shappi Khorsandi talking about bulimia and getting a divorce? Properly funny, and you’ll leave feeling weirdly uplifted at the end of it. Inexplicable but true.
 
She talks from an empty stage, prop-free – she does use the audience as props at one point, but not in a way that’s going to make anyone feel uncomfortable. One of the things that might explain the strange feeling of happiness at the close of the show is simply that she looks like she’s having a very good time up there. If getting all this off her chest doesn’t make her sad and uncomfortable, your unconscious mind concludes, then I’m fine to laugh at it too – it’ll all be ok in the end!
 
The show’s title is about her younger self’s desire to have it all: the loving husband, the 2.4 kids and the career. In her publicity picture she kicks up her heels with apparent liberation, her swanky silver dress protesting that, whilst that dream may have fallen through, there’s no damn reason why you can’t make the most of it and move on. And this is the message of her show – still raw, finding it pretty tough, but able to make a joke of it, see the success stories you’ve written and look to the things you want the future to hold.
 
There was a wobble in the middle of the show where the thread was lost slightly – perhaps prompted by some wonderfully inappropriate loo-trips. As a whole though, Khorsandi makes you feel like you’ve had a DMC about life with a very clever, frank and unreasonably funny friend. She makes you quit your whinging and have some fun with it – it might be tough, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be laughed at.

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