Bridging the Persian Gulf

Omid DjaliliThe Regent, IpswichNIGERIANITIS. You won't find it in a medical reference book, but you will be able to identify a case of it at a theatre near you if Omid Djalili is playing.

Omid Djalili

The Regent, Ipswich

NIGERIANITIS. You won't find it in a medical reference book, but you will be able to identify a case of it at a theatre near you if Omid Djalili is playing.

Simply put, the sufferer finds himself talking - yelling - in a strong Nigerian accent at the slightest provocation and Djalili has it bad.

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His USP is his multiculturalism. As a British-born Iranian comedian he has a world view which, if not unique, is pretty close to it and a declared mission to 'bring world peace through stand-up.'

Last night's show was perhaps a little slow to get off the mark; it took an accidental tumble on the microphone cord to get the audience fully on-side, but after that things were rapidly up to temperature and the man was flying.

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When he first came into the wider public attention it was for his gift of mimicry; he can do any accent you like, showcased by his trademark seamless switch from strong Middle Eastern to cut-glass English and, of course, the afore-mentioned Nigerian.

His upbringing gives him broad scope for some brave comedy; suicide bombers would not figure high in most comics' gag books but he was out there cracking jokes about the attack on Glasgow airport: 'Getting in the way of Glaswegians going on holiday? Now that is suicide.'

The flipside is his love of Britishness, the way that we can have an aircraft crash at Heathrow with no casualties and where everyone gets to go on the slides, an earthquake where the damage is confined to a couple of chimney pots and how we love to queue.

There were some deliciously well-aimed blows at racism, black and white, at fundamentalism and politics and there was the spectacle of a policeman being forced to arrest himself for illegally going on strike.

His take on middle-class hooliganism will have struck a chord with anyone who has been to a football match; he's a Chelsea fan, by the way.

And there was the dancing. Oh, the dancing. Actually he moves well for a big fellow and he's nailed that bit of visual comedy pretty much perfectly. It was undoubtedly a high point of the show for many in the house and made a fun finale. If only he hadn't tried to tell us that Santa Claus didn't exist.

Dominic Castle

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