Review: Citizen Khan at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall

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It is good to see a large venue like the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall so full for actor Adil Ray’s Citizen Khan – they all know me one man comedy show. It is also great to see a sea of Asian faces amongst the usual mostly white audience. It seems that Pakistani Citizen Khan’s cheeky opinions are a hit wherever you come from. Unless you are from the tax office or the immigration services or anyone at all from India. These subjects are the butt of his jokes in his ninety minutes stand up routine and reflect his character’s opinionated television based persona.

He is generally funny in balancing his original wry observations of Muslim life and Islam against the world in general. In his singular view of all things Pakistani – his original nationality – and British Muslim life is always the best. With regular vocally disgusting interjections he mimics the gross sound of a phlegmatic Pakistani elder in the same way other comedians punctuate their gags with ticks and coughs. It is a cleverly conceived act that resonates with many but dares to go a bit on the side of dangerous by asking the audience to share with the more rebellious side of his set.

There is a lot of banter with the audience and late comers get the brunt of his jibes. He doesn’t say much but a smiling stare at the offenders and a “Half past seven. It starts at half past seven. You will be nipping to the toilets in ten minutes won’t you?” is enough to get a big laugh out of the audience and the late comers blushing.

The subjects of immigration and questions about what makes Britain great form the bulk of the show. At one point two male volunteers (one far too eager) are invited up on to the stage to impersonate an Indian and a Pakistani and answer daft questions. Although Adil Ray deals with their ineptitude and lack of stage presence generally, at times this part of the act slows proceedings down. Another couple of men (one of whom is a genial Indian man) are called up on stage to take part in an ‘immigrant packing a suitcase’ game. Ray teases the Indian man as he tries to fill his suitcase with pots and pans and an actual kitchen sink top. The humour is never racially offensive and some of his comedy works very well whilst other pieces in the second half get set up and kind of lose themselves along the way. His many fans in the audience enjoy the humour all the same.

Citizen Khan – Community Leader is certainly a larger than life character and perfect for a one man comedy show but ninety minutes worth does seem over ambitious in the playing. On the plus side it is great that an audience of mixed races enjoy comedy together. Although his observations have an ethnic base really they are universal subjects like keeping the family happy and making ends meet. His claim that things would be so much easier if everyone listening to his ‘wisdom’ and do as he says is one that many families encounter universally. British Muslims encounter exactly the same problems as everyone else it seems. It’s a funny old world.

Reviewer: Phil Lowe

Originally reviewed for The Reviews Hub 27th April 2016

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