August 11 – 20 2016
Reviewed by Katelyn Panagiris
Last week Akmal Saleh, one of Australia’s most respected and hilarious comics, thrilled audiences at Brisbane Powerhouse with his newest stand-up comedy show.
From stories of growing up in the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl to stories of his first foray into reality television with I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! (he only agreed to appear on the show to avoid bankruptcy, of course), Akmal offers an amusing insight into his life in the biz.
His performance is at once crude and sincere, dealing with personal and universal experience. And sure, at times Akmal could be perceived as controversial, touching on issues of cultural identity mainly through his own experience as an Egyptian-Australian. For a conservative audience, some of his jokes may offend but for me Akmal’s honesty and warmth counteracts any possible offensiveness.
Above all, Akmal is visibly passionate about his “job” as a stand-up comic, and like any great comedian, he exudes enormous confidence on stage. He says his main goal is to make us happy and I would say without a doubt he achieves this.
He commands the audience’s attention and rides their laughter out to the last little giggle.
Akmal is full of energy and vigour, while remaining casual and conversational. The structure of his act could be likened to that of a story from a close friend. It starts strong with all of the important information, departs onto a million little tangents as you chat the details but eventually returns to the point, to the punchline. In short, I found the structure of Akmal’s act a little messy at times but at no point did I feel like we were on a journey without a destination.
Instead Akmal’s approach leaves plenty of room for audience interaction. On the night I attended there were a few audience members who Akmal continually referred back to with very funny consequences. His question and answer section was also a great opportunity for audience members to ask all of the important questions – like, you know, what are Shane Warne, Carl Baron and [insert other celebrity here] like?