Perth has been missing Sami Shah. No, really, it’s true. He left us and moved to Melbourne about a year ago and things just haven’t been the same. But, the thrilling news is that he’s back for Fringe World 2017.
This year’s stand-up show, Sami Shah: Alive, features Sami’s trademark observational humour and social commentary. Within moments of him stepping onstage, we’re laughing at the notion of him discovering himself to be devoid of smart remarks when meeting the Prime Minister.
An air of joyful satisfaction seems to permeate the air while he speaks. Is it because he has missed Perth so much? Well, we’d like to think so. Sami certainly has missed Perth audiences; a point that he explains by way of offering a compliment and swiftly taking it back. Sami keeps us on our toes and we love it.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this performance was a series of bits that set out with such disconcerting proclamations that we started out wondering if we would still like him as a person by the end of the show. His assertion that he respects and admires Pauline Hanson, for example, was bewildering. However, the way he launched from this premise into a string of sharp-witted analogies and observations that proved – in a particularly pointed way – to turn the whole idea on its head, was utterly delicious to witness.
Interestingly, Sami doesn’t spend much time discussing the realities of a Trump presidency; at least that’s not how it seems at first. In fact, Sami disempowers the topic by focusing on anecdotes about minorities. In a world where Trump, and conservative politicians that follow in the shadow of his narrative, brings up a sense and reality of legitimate fear for so many people – sometimes within a single tweet – it seems particularly apt to deny white supremacy the spotlight.
Talking about the situational-awareness that comes from living in a constantly dangerous place, Sami illustrates that no one is devoid of prejudice. But, and perhaps this is the most important point to take away from the show, it’s the implications of that prejudice that should be understood and differentiated.
Star rating systems are, frankly, reductive. But, if I was to be working within one, I’d give this show 4.5.
Sami Shah: Alive ran from January 31 to February 4. Sami is also bringing his award-winning show Islamofarcist back for Fringe World 2017; it runs until February 18.