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Urooj Ashfaq, Soho Theatre review - assured UK debut by Mumbai stand-up | reviews, news & interviews

Urooj Ashfaq, Soho Theatre review - assured UK debut by Mumbai stand-up

Urooj Ashfaq, Soho Theatre review - assured UK debut by Mumbai stand-up

Divorce, dating and teenage diaries

Urooj Ashfaq is part of the flourishing Mumbai comedy scene

It's takes a confident comic performing only her second show in English – her second language – to joke near the top of the hour: “I didn't know I wasn't as funny in English.” Urooj Ashfaq also told us she would get upset if the audience didn't like her – but she shouldn't worry. Her confidence proved to be justified.

Ashfaq performed her enjoyable UK debut Oh No! in London as a preview for her first run at the Edinburgh Fringe this month. It's an hour of storytelling about her life, family, dating and the things she likes. And some of the things she dislikes.

This sort of material could be quotidian but Ashfaq has such warmth that she carries it off. She has a degree in psychology and has spent some time in therapy, a section that forms a large part of the show. But there's no navel gazing as she tells us she generously posed some questions to her therapist for a range of friends who couldn't afford the fees – to such an extent that her therapist thought Ashfaq may have a personality disorder.

Ashfaq also touches on her parents' divorce – “the only thing they agreed on” – the way boys suppress emotions and the rules of modern dating.

She ends the show with something that could be hack – reading from her teenage diaries – but there is some rich material here, not least the cruelties of teenage relationships and the silliness of celebrity crushes when viewed from adulthood.

Ashfaq established a warm rapport with the audience – containing a large smattering of Indian ex-pats who loved her Hindi asides – although I must admit that her fast-paced delivery and tendency to swallow some lines meant that I missed a few gags. But the laugh count is high nonetheless and there are some clever callbacks in an assured debut.

Ashfaq is part of the flourishing Mumbai comedy scene and Oh No! is being presented by Soho Theatre in association with OML, who are showcasing her and four other Indian acts  – Sapan Verma, Abishek and Nirmal, Suhani Shah and Biswa Kalyan Rath – making their Edinburgh Fringe debuts this month.

Ashfaq established a warm rapport with the audience

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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