The Omid Djalili Show Review: AKA Stewart Lee Review, Part 2

April 20, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

3THE OMID DJALILI SHOW, Monday 20th April, BBC1, 10.35pm Alert Me

I quake with fear as I write this review. My last foray into comedy reviewing didn’t go down too well amongst the viewing public. In fact, an individual who will remain nameless even changed his Twitter status to “Sally McIlhone – the worst comedy reviewer ever”.

Still, any publicity is good publicity, so thanks for that Mr X.

I have to say, I enjoyed The Omid Djalili Show more than Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle. Not a lot more, admittedly, but a bit more. Yes, at times it was childish and silly. Yes, it reinforces social and cultural stereotypes (albeit in a tongue in cheek way). Yes, a lot of humour is driven by Djalili and his “funny face”. But with about a 50% laughter return, for me, it was a half hour that delivered more in terms of entertainment value than Mr Lee’s “Books” episode. I probably wouldn’t rush to watch it again, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

It opened well, with a  skit that saw Djalili at an overly complicated recycling centre, complete with chute for Jordan biographies and literal fluff, and although it was mostly downhill after the first sketch, there were glimmers of hope. Djalili has a predilection for pun-heavy, Middle-Eastern-themed slapstick, peppering his stand up with parodies like Sheiks and The City and Jihad’s Army. My favourite sketch saw him imitating a copycat Geoff Thompson (self help writer/martial arts expert), cunningly disguised under the pseudonym Steve… err… Thompson. As the hard nut expounds on ways to improve the Olympics (namely replacing the habitual opening ceremony acrobats with Chaz and Dave), accessorising his baldy bonce with two sweatbands and symbolising the Olympic rings with 5/6th’s of a slab of beer, it is impossible not to chuckle at his apt timing and farcical facial expressions.

On the other hand, there were several random sketches that failed to make sense or amuse, and left the show feeling somewhat poorly structured. If there’s one thing to be said about Lee it’s that he picks a subject and is very thorough in linking every joke back to a central theme. There was none of this clarity with Djalili. We went from suicide bomber jokes to a scene with a homeboy Henry VIII, followed by a Western featuring a Community Support Sheriff. The show closed with a Credit Crunch Rock Opera and I was left wholly confused.

Although I respect Lee more for his ordered approach, Djalili made me laugh more. Simple as that.

While I have only awarded Djalili with half a star more than Comedy Vehicle, Lee fans please note, I wholeheartedly expect a backlash. Do your worst.

Sally McIlhone