Review: Sameena Zehra – Homicidal Pacifist

sameena zehra

Originally published for The Skinny.

Describing herself as a pacifist trying to suppress her homicidal side, Sameena Zehra returns to the Fringe this year with a show based around her desire to cull most of the human race. She suggests that we come up with a questionnaire that everyone must take to decide who should be culled or not. She encourages us to share our opinions on who should have to take the test, with contributions including UKIP, journalists and people who stop in the middle of the street.

There is a very clear political slant in much of Zehra’s comedy, as she discusses the state of world politics and tries to convince a member of the audience to change her view on Scottish independence. There are times where you feel like you are just watching a woman rant about everything she hates in the world, but Zehra’s articulation of her undying hatred of all these things is incredibly funny and you often find yourself relating to every word she is saying. Zehra is undoubtedly an incredibly intelligent woman and is able to voice her opinions on modern society in a very interesting and funny way.

Towards the end of the show, Zehra announces that half of the money made from each ticket will be donated to MAP – Military Aid for Palestinians – and flyers telling you a bit more about the organisation are laid out for you to pick up as you leave. This is a very thought-provoking, intellectual hour of comedy.

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Review: Alistair Green – Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm

alistair green

Originally published for The Skinny.

Alistair Green spends most of his show talking about his own personal failings and declares that he has pretty much given up. Some of his stories are very funny, some are a bit depressing and some you just don’t need to know.

Not seeming entirely comfortable on the stage, Green spends a great deal of the performance shaking and adjusting the microphone stand; but while he may not appear that confident in his demeanour, he does not seem at all unconfident when it comes to telling his jokes. Perhaps sharing a little bit too much sometimes, Green really opens up to the audience about some pretty embarrassing incidents and some of his experiences in his past jobs, as well as moaning about some of the things that annoy him. The only moments where Green’s jokes really fall flat are the few attempts he makes at ‘lad humour,’ which really don’t sound right coming from a 38-year-old man who clearly has better jokes in him than that.

Green’s comedy is generally quite self-deprecating but clearly very tongue in cheek, so although some of his stories seem a bit grim, he manages to put a clever twist on them and turn them into funny anecdotes. Where he really does shine is in his ability to be completely open about his own downfalls in life – and his genuine bafflement at his own behaviour often makes for the funniest moments in the show.

Review: Abigoliah Schamaun – It’s Pronounced Abigoliah Schamaun

abigoliah schamaun

Originally published for The Skinny.

As far as crowds at a comedy show go, this was perhaps the most diverse I have been amongst and Abigoliah Schamaun certainly noticed it too, joking that we perfectly fit her target demographic of 20-something year old women and 60-something year old men.

Schamaun’s fifth show at the Fringe delves in to her childhood and deconstructs the moments that have made her who she is today, with visual props from a file her late father put together documenting her life, including a bizarre psychological evaluation from when she was just eight years old. Taking the audience on a journey from her childhood in to her adulthood, Schamaun fills the show with plenty of hilarious stories about her school days, her sex life and moving from Kentucky to New York and, more recently, to London. However, there are also some pretty emotional moments throughout, particularly when Schamaun discusses her family, which really draw you in and make it more than just another stand-up comedy show.

Although Schamaun may appear slightly intimidating at first, she has a really good rapport with the audience and at no point do you feel uncomfortable watching her, even when she is talking about some pretty explicit sexual experiences – although I can’t speak for the group of 60-something year old men, who clearly didn’t know what they had let themselves in for. Schamaun is a fearless, no-holds-barred kind of comedian, who clearly isn’t bothered about sharing even her most embarrassing stories as long as she is making people laugh.

Interview: Nick Brewer

nick brewer

Originally published for The 405.

Many current hip-hop artists can be accused of focusing solely on fuckin’ bitches and gettin’ money; but for 25-year-old, Essex-born rapper Nick Brewer, that is not the case. His first EP since signing to Island records, Four Miles Further, is a showcase of his skill as a wordsmith and a storyteller, with tales of his youth and commentary on modern society. “I can’t really claim to be a gangster,” said Brewer, who seems reluctant to get caught up with the hip-hop aesthetic.

“I’ve found that talking about what I’ve experienced and what I think and what I’ve gone through, that’s when I make my best music,” he added. Brewer’s style is not entirely dissimilar to his UK contemporaries in terms of subject matter, but his flow is more in the realm of that of a spoken word artist. “I’ve actually got in to writing spoken word more recently in the songs that I do when I’m performing live. I feel like it’s a really good way for people to get to know you and take in what your saying and I feel like they connect with you,” he said.

Beginning his path in to music DJ’ing when he was just 11 years old, Brewer became a fan of the rising UK grime scene at the time but, while he also took an interest in rapping, it wasn’t until he was much older that he became comfortable calling himself a rapper. “I always rapped secretly. I got in to rapping when I was about 16 or 17 but I didn’t really take it seriously until I was about 21,” he said. Brewer’s narrative rapping style has garnered praise from critics and earned him the tag of an “urban poet”, much like many of his influences. “I think all my favourite rappers are just wicked storytellers. Nas and Eminem are probably top of my list, but even guys like Drake, Chance the Rapper and J Cole as well, they can really paint a vivid picture and take you on a journey,” he added.

Brewer has worked with an array of up-and-coming UK talent, from spoken word artist George the Poet to rapper Little Simz, both of whom feature on his Four Miles Further EP. “I really like to work with people obviously that I’m fans of but I also kind of have a personal relationship with, especially because I feel like the audiences are people who understand you and you understand them,” he said. The EP was produced by Brewer’s long-time collaborators The Confect, who have worked with him on the majority of his music. “We just locked ourselves in the studio and got cracking on it. Some of the tunes have been there in a less developed form for a while,” he said.

While many rappers his age may be attracted to the elaborate lifestyle that comes with being a hip-hop artist, Brewer has managed to stay grounded and focus on the music. “I feel like rap music is one of the main genre’s where you can really get to know the artist, whether you agree with what they’re saying or whether they’re painting a positive picture, they’re kind of describing who they are and what they do. On the whole, it is somewhat of a lost art but when it’s done properly, I think it can be really powerful.”