Fringe World Perth 2016

Sami Shah: Punching Down, Fringe World Perth 2016

0 Comments 29 January 2016

Sami Shah is no stranger to Perth audiences, but Fringe World 2016 is the first time he has travelled from Melbourne to perform for us. The comedian and writer had a busy 2015, jet-setting to London to appear on QI, and then moving from Western Australia to Victoria in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

Punching Down, Sami’s energetic tirade of inter-connected stories performed in the style of observational comedy, impresses and stuns. With the mood oscillating from flippant to sombre, Shah takes us on a unique journey in a way that only he could.

Standing onstage in a shirt that blends with the white curtains in the wings, he reflects on his disarmingly prompt acclimatisation to Melbourne weather.

Shah speaks on a number of provocative topics, shifting the setting from Perth to Melbourne to Pakistan, London and Northam. He effortlessly weaves his observations together with elegant callbacks and an expert use of metaphor.

Aside from his lively social commentary, Shah’s apt demonstration of exactly how to achieve a chiselled physique also has the audience chuckling. He scuttles back and forth, exclaiming and frantic, before turning his point around completely. Next, he’s telling us how to tackle Australia’s “apex predator” of racism.

There are, of course, awkward stories, but they’re not what you might expect. Sami reflects on the topic of bigotry in Australia and overseas with the sophistication we have come to know and love, but in Punching Down he proves that his comedic scope goes well beyond this topic. The selection of personal tales is vast and balanced, complete with sage reflections on life and its strange twists and turns.

The highlight of opening night was Sami’s ad-libbed response to the booming sounds of a gym upstairs. He moved away from his story, had the audience in raptures of laughter at his impromptu assertions, and then smoothly picked up right where he had left off.

Some of Shah’s content was surprisingly dark, and perhaps a little bitter, but his high-energy stream of stories was at no stage dull or unfortunate. He’s a consummate entertainer, and his last segment, an ode to the importance of laughter, was stunning proof of this fact.

Sami Shah: Punching Down runs from January 27-31 at the Comedy Shack in Northbridge, and on February 7 at The Balmoral Backyard on Albany Highway, East Victoria Park. Tickets available here.

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