Omid Djalili’s newest stand up show, ‘Shmuck for a Night’, came to York for one night only last week. Playing to a nearly full York Royal Opera House, the show was a hilarious combination of music, jokes and political satire. Supported by Boothby Graffoe, Djalili made a night full of cheer and cheese with such immense energy it was hard not to have a smile on your face for the entire night.
On first was support act Boothby Grafoe, who performed with a combination of stand up and music. This is not completely unseen on the comedy stage nowadays, with Bill Bailey and David O’Doherty really fronting these kinds of sets. But, despite his unoriginal ‘grumpy middle aged man’ vibe, he provided the right material to get the crowd going. The comedian even caught me out when telling the audience that he was about to sing a lullaby for his daughter, only to proceed after a few chords to scream “GOTOSLEEP!” Despite the initially tentativeness from the audience, Grafoe put on a generally well-received warm-up act.
Following a rather awkwardly-placed interval that left the audience feeling slightly cooled down, Omid took to the stage. With only a small carpet to focus on the stage, the comedian commanded a fantastic presence as he came on and maintained it throughout the show. He tackled a range of subjects, from political correctness to what it meant to be British. With a lot of material gleaned from popular references which were possibly too old for me to fully appreciate, Djalili still made them funny and relevant to the audience he was presenting to. Alongside topical material, Omid Djalili really shone in his typical cheese and cheer way through ‘rewards’ for the audience. Incorporating a classic comedy gag after explaining the hospitality of Iranian culture, Djalili danced to Iranian music in such a way that could only be described as ‘crude dad-dancing.’ After nearly two decades on stage, Djalili’s crowning piece has to be his well-rehearsed accents, which add that little bit of sparkle to his jokes about Nelson Mandela and his neighbour and his Iranian background.
However, despite all of Djalili’s cheer on stage, some subjects he tackled, which would be considered ‘taboo’ for comedians, left me personally feeling a little unsure on how to react. His material in the encore about cancer may have left people around me laughing but I was slightly anxious to respond in a similar way, even though all of his jokes were obviously good natured. In a time where politics now dominates our media, it is a surprise that Djalili didn’t really tackle post-Brexit Britain or the sitting duck that is Trump for his material, but at the same time it is refreshing not to hear about politics for a change.
Omid Djalili’s tour continues until May. Tickets are still available for his remaining shows.