Looking at theatre and the arts across North East England, the North East Theatre Guide continues to celebrate culture in our region.
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The Tyne Theatre continues to be a popular venue for the comics that regularly pop up on television. Omid Djalili’s blend of sharp social & multi-cultural commentary with observations about current affairs went down well with the Newcastle crowd.
Opening was Boothby Graffoe, an experienced comic who knew how to work the room. Armed with a guitar he was able to recall the lullabies that he used to get his daughter to sleep. Other tunes were short and had carefully crafted lyrics that finished on the punchline. Accents slipped as he retold funny tales though this was as much of the comedy as the story itself. He related well to the crowd as he observed the number of bridges Newcastle has and the authentic American welcome of the local Frankie and Benny’s.
Omid has come a long way since we first saw him at the start of his career at the Hyena Café. Having said that, the performance was memorable and we still talk about it nearly 20 years later. The Iranian dancing still makes an appearance in 2017 but he no longer has to explain his comedy.
The news is full of rich comedy material for Omid to exploit. He suggests that Trump may not be a nice person but he is comedy gold. A number of his statements made during the election campaign were offered to support this. He considers Brexit, trans gender issues, immigration and religion. In doing such high risk topics it is clear he will not have everyone laughing all of the time as he sails so near the knuckle. Having said that, Omid’s skill is to keep everyone on board for his next topic. Personally I laughed almost all the way through his 90 minute set.
Omid knows when to deliver that killer line which will have the crowd in stitches. He is a master of regional accents too. He is not a comic that will work his way across the front asking for names and occupations in search of a cheap laugh. Nor does he feel bound by political correctness if it will stop his getting his point across. The show’s title “Schmuck for a Night” is a reference to the Jewish term for being a fool. Omid suggests that the news and world events make it easy to be in the dark about the implications of political decisions. If that sounds heavy then don’t panic and the lighter moments regularly infiltrate the tougher observations. He isn’t overtly preachy. The feeling of respect and kindness was allowed to develop.
Omid Djalili is an accomplished performer, with perfect comic timing, that can deliver bad news or the harsh prediction of the future with an infectious smile. No story over stayed its welcome. The tales often end with a dance for a good laugh. This was a perfect way to be entertained on a Friday night and we look forward to his return.
Review by Stephen Oliver
Coming up at Newcastle’s Tyne Theatre:
David O’Doherty: Big Time - Saturday 18th February 2107