Gluttony’s Le Petite Grande, Sat Mar 14
Tahir has the gift of lighting up the stage the moment he steps on to it, with a natural smile and expression of innocent mischief in his eyes. You know what he would have looked like aged ten.
He announced himself as Turkish and has been consistently cast as dodgy drug-dealing types in various sitcoms, the Australian go to racial stereotype for Turkish people (He does a quick survey of the room to find out which nations are represented (Greece, Turkey, Italy, non-specific Arab, India, more…) and there was a tricky moment where someone appeared to be the wrong sort of Asian (Indian) as opposed to, I think, Chinese (I couldn’t see behind me), which required an extra layer of cultural assumptions to be exposed.
This is a well intentioned show (silly old Melbourne for banning it as if someone is going to be advocating racism in a comedy festival!) They took exception to the blurb about ‘Asians must show drivers licenses’ and ‘no big beards’ and something about backpacks. My problem with that is the hack nature of the observations and clumsy irony. He made a gameshow for How Racist Are You? and took a pop at Home And Away for not having any ethnic characters, but by doing an audience pantomime version with ethnics, continued to perpetuate the stereotype of crotch-grabbing Middle Eastern geezers and their imitative swagger. Tahir can act but the awkward grinning and flapping of his audience-cast members didn’t add much.
Tahir delivered a sound comedy performance, but the show would benefit from being more challenging and a bit less accepting of the normalising of stereotypes and assumptions, but at least somebody has opened the debate.