Refugee Council comedy night

No Laughing Matter
Refugee Council event at the Comedy Store, London
Monday 18th June 2007


With comic irony, the Refugee Council’s annual charity event at the Comedy Store happens to coincide with the death of Bernard Manning.

A theme for the evening quickly emerges it is a diverse crowd and a range of stereotypes are plundered. Footballers, the Irish, the Germans are all worked over. Even people from Romford are not spared.

The US also comes in for some stick – much of it justified, of course. But these days, making merry mirth at the expense of Americans isn’t hard work.

On a different tack, our next stand-up seems to be in need of social work intervention.

To play to another stereotype, trust a woman to raise the quality of the event! Shappi Khorsandi provides some beautifully observed comedy inspired by her Iranian/west London upbringing. Shappi’s family came to the UK as asylum seekers “before it was fashionable”, fleeing Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution. She challenges the audience with notions of what’s racist and what’s not, claiming, “I’m not racist, ‘cos I’m beige!”. Favourite line? “I went to the local Christian school. It was called school”.

The interval reminds us all of why we’re here. An inspirational story of the support offered by the Refugee Council, a reconstituted family, housed and employed in the UK. Moving photographs of victims of torture add poignancy to an evening of laughter.

Post-interval, more “Bush-whacking” and jibes at British “colonialism”, “midgets” (a distant term) and how love songs turn men gay (er).

The final act is Ian Stone, who gives us proper comedy at top speed. We go from clementines, to Darfur, to the Pope in the first couple of minutes, most of the content highly contemporary – and unrepeatable!

Stone makes much of his Jewish background too. “I don’t hate the Germans. I mean, I do quite miss my grandparents”. Hilarious – and if you ever get the chance to see him, don’t hesitate. He even suggests that the Refugee Council and the Bush regime are working together. “Surely more displaced people is a good thing!”

A good night and a great way to celebrate the work of the Refugee Council. Shame Bernard couldn’t have been there.

Chris Martin is service manager for partnerships with Havering Council children’s services directorate

This article appeared in the 5 July issue under the headline “A Bush-whacking evening”

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