King's Theatre, Glasgow
After grappling with the pronunciation, it transpires that the d in Djalili is silent. Want to know what's also silent at Omid Djalili's set at the King's Theatre, as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival? This writer.
The name of Djalili's tour - Iranalamadingdong - should have acted as a sign, if not a warning, of what the night would hold. For the most part, his performance is saturated with jokes that if he were not Iranian-British, would be racist, but because he is Iranian, can't be - that is his logic at least.
But the glaring issue is that there isn't much of a set to judge. After just 20 minutes there is an interval of half an hour, then the second half - better in content, and more cohesive - is 45-minutes long including a bizarre encore where the comic performs a parody of the U2 song Ordinary Love. It is a parody though, right? Difficult to say, what with Djalili's awkward singing which isn't bad enough to be funny and instead feels like a man on a stage living out an unrealised childhood dream.
There are well-perceived segments with sharp observations about the inherent unwritten rules of every family and a nice line about using the retrospective James Bonds as a litmus test for age. More of the same would have been good, which would have been possible if not for that yawning interval.
For the brevity of the set, Djalili jovially blames Jerry Sadowicz who is also playing at the venue later that night. Unless Sadowicz is sitting behind the stage encouraging Djalili to take that monolithic break in the middle however, there's no-one to blame but Djalili himself.
Continuing their 'Charm Offensive' UK tour, the three members of Fascinating Aida sure knew how to work the room on Friday night. Their opening numbers We're Next, We're Not Done Yet and Boomerang Kid all explored similar issues of the 'Baby Boomer' generation, from looming mortality to absolute vitality (ending up with the almost inevitability that the kids will land back on your doorstep once you're about to enter the comfortable retirement stage).
What Dillie Keane, Adele Anderson and Liza Pulman brought to this truly well-conceived and slickly-executed show was a sense of self that has been much more surface, indeed almost flippant, in the past. Their comedy cabaret style lends itself so well to humorous asides and sarcastic digs that it was quite a revelation for there to be so many self-reflective moments. Look Mummy No Hands and Old Home were truly poignant, while Pulman's Out of Practice would've found a home on any stage in London's West End.
However, it was Anderson's tour-de-force performance that really took the Aidas to the next level: her spite-ridden Joyce was a masterclass in caustic comedy while Prisoner of Gender (a song 10 years in the writing) was an honest depiction of growing up, not understanding or connecting with what she saw when she looked in the mirror.
Keane's usual mastery of the piano and hilarious facial expressions were present and her Allo, Bonjour Monsieur! had the edge over her controversial solo in the first half. More than a one-hit-wonder act, they undoubtedly do have Cheap Flights to thank for sell-out success. "No clapping along, for feck's sake!" barked Keane, while corpsing profusely, which, for me, sums up their appeal.