COMEDY REVIEW: Omid Djalili @ Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle (09.02.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Kicking off with a showreel of his film and TV work, self-proclaimed ‘dancy joke boy’ and ‘Iran’s only stand-up comedian’ Omid Djalili took to the stage on the tails of a fantastic warm-up from Boothby Graffoe — one that escalated in hilarity when a late audience member prompted the vegan comic to run back his entire set from the beginning, ‘spontaneous’ crowdwork and all, fully committing to the bit beyond the point of reason.

Covid, of course, was very much on the menu for Djalili, slinging observations about toilet paper shortages, government-mandated exercise, and the surreal experience of the British Transport Police ‘see it, say it, sort it’ campaign perpetually playing to empty train carriages where there was very much nothing to see, much less say or sort.

Impeccably well-crafted observations about being an Iranian in England, and how that translates into being at best a ‘foreigner’ and at worst a suicide bomber for a startlingly high proportion of the population were a damning indictment, sure, but one mined for rich results, with jokes about drone strikes and beheadings taking their place alongside gut-busting and eye-opening glimpses into Iranian family life, Godzilla impersonations, spontaneous dance routines, and a properly moving tribute to his friend and fellow comic Sean Lock.

Precision-provocative when he needs to be and never less than warm and genuine, after a lockdown spent doing Zoom gigs in his lavatory Djalili seemed thrilled to be back on stage. With his Geordie accent honed beyond the point of uncanny, too, he’s welcome back up to the proper North (his words!) anytime.

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