Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
The title of Shappi Khorsandi’s new show: Skittish Warrior (Confessions of a Club Comic)reflects the comedian’s sceptical attitude towards showbiz. Khorsandi draws a distinction between performing live as a stand-up and her appearances on TV as a ‘celebrity’. For Khorsandi live performances are a compulsion- something she does even though it might be painful. She traces this compulsion back to trying to impress her father, while still a child, by performing impressions of Margaret Thatcher.
This summary makes Skittish Warrior sound like an hour of celebrity navel-gazing which is far from the case. Khorsandi’s autobiographical observations are filtered through the personality she likes to adopt on-stage as a scatter-brained absent-minded individual. She acknowledges losing the chance to be part of the MeToo Movement simply because she cannot remember the identity of the man who, as part of his attempted seduction, locked her in his apartment.
Skittish Warrior may be unique in featuring a routine on Brexit that is actually funny. Khorsandi is politically to the left but acknowledges the Tories have the best wine. Typical of her absent-minded approach Khorsandi admits to being unsure how she voted in the Brexit referendum.
At The Lowry the absent-mindedness is in overdrive as Khorsandi is on heavy pain medication which may explain why she refers to herself as ‘boiled’ rather than ‘spoiled’ goods and is under the impression a stenographer takes medical scans of babies.
Khorsandi recalls her days on the club circuit with affection while not holding back on the more shabby details. But Skittish Warrior really comes to life with Khorsandi ‘s recollections of her gauche efforts to mix with the rich and famous including arriving for the launch of a prestigious clothing range clutching a pudding having formed the impression it was a modest afternoon barbeque.
Khorsandi likes to present herself as unassuming but she has a wonderful acerbic way with a put-down. Her recollection of a celebrity, who cannot understand the purpose of a woman if he does not wish to sleep with her, brings down the house. Khorsandi has a healthy disregard for fame arguing that being voted off I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here was a victory as she was allowed to spend the duration of the programme in a luxury hotel with her family.
The format of Skittish Warrior is very close to a theatrical monologue rather than stand up. There are few formal gags with punchlines and the tone is thoughtful and reflective rather than simple knockabout. Yet whatever the format, the show is let down by the lack of a formal conclusion. Having started by describing the things that motivated her to enter showbiz Khorsandi never lets us know if her ambitions were satisfied and the show peters out to a vague conclusion.
Reviewed on 3 April 2019 | Image: Contributed