Urooj Ashfaq: Makes her Indian parents’ divorce hilarious
COMEDIAN Urooj Ashfaq is doing okay – actually more than okay after a week of her stand-up show, ‘Oh No!’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – she told www.asianculturevulture.com.
“I don’t want to speak too soon,” she countered, having another week or so to go still. “Everyone told me that the fringe gets to you in the second week.”
The Mumbai based comedian had been in London earlier and acv saw her show – as an Edinburgh Fringe work in progress at the Soho Theatre.
She can perform comfortably in Hindi and/or English and says for her UK shows, she makes an effort to translate everything – such as “Kiara Advani is a very beautiful Bollywood actress”.
She has a girl-next-door sweetness to her and most of humour is observational, international and personally very self-deprecating. In ‘Oh no!’, she picks up on her parent’s divorce – still highly taboo in India; her little girl to teenage crushes in a very amusing final quarter with ‘entries from her diary’ – and has some good one-liner jokes which she admits to trying out in Soho – and are now more refined.
“I found a way to move between the diary section and the jokes,” she smiled in a Zoom.
One thing she had already noticed was – was how much harder it was to make audiences in Edinburgh actually laugh.
“I went to a few shows here myself and I’m the loudest one laughing and those were objectively good shows. “Audiences don’t laugh as much but everyone has been telling me this a cultural thing. For a people who have so much history of colonisation and so much advantage, they have so little joy in their hearts. You can quote me on this,” she laughed.
She got into comedy almost straight out of college as a psychology graduate and worked on Youtube comedy shows and with other comedians writing and performing sketches in India and started doing open mic spots quite early.
She told acv comedy in India is “booming” but standup is still quite young and accepts that she had enough ‘privilege’ (such were her family’s material circumstances) to be able to carve out a career in stand-up from college.
She hasn’t been to the US yet and is going to Europe next after a short holiday there.
We suspect she will be back to the UK – she has a sweet – sorry – and charming on and off stage persona and her humour is finely honed.
Acv rating: Oh No!**** (out of five)
Urooj Ashfaq (‘Oh No!’) at Assembly George Square – The Crate, Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh EH8 9LN, until August 27 (check times and precise dates) – here
Soho Theatre which has a comedy producer based in Mumbai and Indian comedy agency, Only Much Louder, is presenting a group of comedians to Edinburgh with Sapan Verma, Abishek & Nirmal, Suhani Shah and Biswa Kalyan Rath among them.
Folks advertise to find Sharlin a husband with funny consequences
ALSO at the Edinburgh Fringe is Sharlin Jahan – the comedian behind Brown Sauce – a regular comedy night presenting ‘brown’ comedians at the Bill Murray pub in Islington, London.
At the fringe, Jahan doubles up with another ‘brown’ female comedian as Alex Bertullis-Fernandes – whose joint show (split in two halves) is misleadingly entitled, ‘Alex and Sharlin: White Chicks 2’ – does it have anything to do with the film? No.
They’re not white? No, they do point this out.
It’s about 30 minutes each and Jahan will be recounting her “my folks advertised me in a Bangladeshi newspaper to find a husband” set. It’s very funny and Jahan isn’t scared of saying things that some might find taboo or just a little close to the knuckle, but she’s very affable, friendly and only a little unhinged, as you should be – to be a good professional comedian.
The founder of Brown Sauce wasn’t available for us to talk about how audiences there are reacting to her comedy but she wears her heart on her sleeve as a female comedian and it’s brave and funny and well-worth checking out.
On the night we saw Brown Sauce, it was raising money for the Naz and Matt Foundation and featured The Sketchy Ones – with actor-performers Natalie Perera, Hamza Jeetoa and Tom Paul Martin doing some wonderful send-ups of the acting world; Indian Aadar Malik who should probably make more of his mixed Hindu-Muslim heritage; relative newcomer and Iraqi heritage Hasan Al-Habib giving us Baghdad insights; Irish, Indian and gay funny man Dane Buckley – who really mixes it up and Saleha Masud, another Bangla funny woman, who isn’t afraid of breaking a few taboos herself; with the headline act coming from Anuvab Pal – “Everything’s a bit sh*t in Britain” everyman encountersto the Indian uncle who lets it all hang loose. Entertaining. Funny.
ACV rating for Sharlin & August Brown Sauce: ****
Ed fringe listing – here
Brown Sauce – https://www.brownsaucehaha.com/
Fighting back – Anuvab Pal
TRADING niceties between the UK and India and a lot more beside, is Indian comedian Anuvab Pal who presents his ‘Anuvab Pal: The Department of Britishness’ of which his strapline is “The British Government want to sell the idea of Britishness to India and hired a comedian for the job, there’s trouble ahead”.
And yes, on the evidence of his Brown Sauce spot, Pal has a nervous energy and shiftiness that seems wholly appropriate for someone about to enter the Indian Uncle zone. He says it doesn’t afflict you till you’re about 60 – we beg to differ. Don’t say you haven’t been warned…
‘Anuvab Pal: The Department of Britishness’ – Assembly George Square Studios, George Square, EH8 9LH. 6.05pm until August 28. Ed fringe listing – here