Akmal returns to Melbourne International Comedy Festival, armed with his only character voice and a lesson for us all.

The first thing Akmal would like you to know is that you are at his show, and that he is not Carl Baron, and unfortunately this mistake does happen quite a lot. Armed with tales of travelling the country and being accosted by Carl Baron fans, Akmal takes his audience on a journey through reality television and his appearance on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, a tussle with the tax office and the socioeconomic landscape of New South Wales and it’s immigration. A huge theme that runs through the show is the concept of “foreign” and “foreigners” and the implication this has on the public’s perception of national security and terrorism. Now imagine that in Akmal’s almost bogan, slightly high pitched, nasal and only character voice, he almost proudly admits to his audience, and you have an indication of what you’re in for in the show.

The show is straight up stand up comedy, no time or need to mess about with lighting, set or performance: Akmal is here to tell his stories and make you laugh with his usual ‘pick on members of the audience’ banter. His attack on reality television is relatable and his commentary on “buying fertilizer as a brown man” is a sobering and almost unfortunately, entertaining look at the world.

The show is in his usual ADD, hyperactive fast paced rant, but unfortunately his audience, and his new friend he picked on the most, had started to cotton on that Akmal doesn’t usually finish his story or his joke, bouncing around and around from the vast amount of stories he has to share.  I’m still not sure on the outcome of his appearance on television (though that may be because it hasn’t aired yet), I don’t know how his run in with the tax office finished up (thought maybe it isn’t resolved yet), and I’m not sure whether his story about his cousin’s daughter, whose name is Isis, had a point or punch line, other than to punctuate his different arguments. The crowd certainly heckled him to find out where his stories were going.

On the crowd, I think that any artist, show or performer deserves your respect when on stage. If you arrive 15 minutes late into a performance, comedian or other, you shouldn’t get to sit in your assigned seats, no matter how good they are right in the middle of the theatre, where you disrupt an entire row of people, as well as Akmal’s routine, to access. I’d also love to give a “cool story bro” to the girl who decided to disrupt the already had to keep on track performer with her life story about where she lives in Sydney. Try as he may, Akmal couldn’t get her to stop talking, make her points that funny or make them relevant to what he was saying.

The Sydney bashing, which any Melbournian loves, goes hand in hand with a dialogue on the war on hipsters, and the growing fear and lash back in society about ISIS and terrorism is both sobering in commentary on racism and funny on the side of ridiculous.

If you sit in the front section of the theatre, like most comedians, Akmal addresses his audience a little like a school teacher herds and picks on students, and will ask you about your life, why you’re crossing your arms, and whether you’d actually meant to go see Carl Baron.

Akmal plays at the Athenaeum Theatre until 17th April.

 

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