Words by Samaya Borom

Performing at the Melbourne Town Hall as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Shappi Khorsandi’s quick wit and keen observations make her show one not to be missed.

Originally from Iran, Khorsandi moved to England after the Islamic Revolution due to the persecution directed toward her poet father.  Khorsandi is an observational comedian, and the experience of growing up a Persian in England fuels many of the stories in her set. Some hilarious anecdotes include her father being mistaken for a Pakistani taxi driver or terrorist, religious assumptions concerning her newborn daughter, and condescending encounters with bigwigs whose stereotyped view of Khorsandi drew audible gasps and laughs from the audience.

Shappi’s approach was light hearted and always engaging. She included the audience in her set by asking them questions about their lives, then invariably segued into a personal anecdote that clearly resonated around the room. The subject matter was varied and entertaining, illustrating how adept Khorsandi is at moving effortlessly from talking about relationship issues to the problem of children being bullied in the playground.

Shappi Khorsandi’s show is a delightful hour or so, which feels like having a friend over for a chat. She’s personable, likeable and her stories are entertaining.

Shappi Khorsandi is on at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at the Melbourne Town Hall from 27 March to 13 April.

Words by Samaya Borom

Playing at the Princess Theatre as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Brian Henson’s Alternative Puppet Up! Uncensored is unlike any live puppet show you’re ever likely to go and see.

Featuring an assorted cast of puppets, it’s an entirely improvised performance that takes its cues from audience participation – no matter how lewd or controversial that may be. The audience is prompted by an equally entertaining compere who picks out the best (or worst) suggestions for the puppet troupe to act out. A language warning is definitely necessary, which is why the show is marketed at the 18-plus market, though all audience members I could see where laughing uproariously.

Saturday night’s performance featured a re-creation of a first date at Young and Jacksons (30 years ago), a community announcement of the problems that are associated with masturbating other people, and an imagined episode of ‘Toorak Wankers” featuring a spa bath and a child with Tourette Syndrome. Because the act is improvised no two shows are the same, which makes for a great excuse to go more than once.

Brian Henson’s Alternative Puppet Up! Uncensored certainly lives up to its name and that’s what makes it stand out from the crowd. The fact it is driven from audience participation makes it a great night out and one that’s sure to be memorable (if not controversial!).

Brian Henson’s Alternative Puppet Up! Uncensored is on at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at Princess Theatre from 27 March to 20 April.