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Omid Djalili’s The Good Times Tour at London’s Eventim Apollo

On the evening of the Strictly Come Dancing final, Omid Djalili saw to it that the Hammersmith Apollo (as I still call it) audience enjoyed some dance moves too, and without tedious footage of him in rehearsal beforehand. That the evening went ahead at all was something of an achievement, given the number of cancellations and postponements of other gigs and shows at the venue, and indeed elsewhere at the time of writing. Djalili appears to have reached a point in his career where he’s been on the stand-up circuit (as well as film, television and theatre) for long enough to not be overly bothered with what others say about him, challenging reviewers in the audience to write a one-star review if they wanted to do so.

Omid DjaliliI would indulge him, but it wasn’t a one-star performance, not least because he manages to talk extensively about what went on in between the first lockdown of March 2020 and the removal of mandatory coronavirus-related restrictions in most settings in the summer of 2021, without sounding like a bore or going on too much about something the audience is more than fully aware of. It’s interesting to note that there are elements of what happened that can be looked back on with smiles (albeit behind masks) and laughter, without the feeling of discomfort or offence. The toilet paper shortage was indeed somewhat absurd, as were the continued recorded announcements on public transport to “text the British Transport Police” if anyone ever saw anything suspicious (trains were so quiet then that one hardly saw anything or anyone at all in the first place). So Djalili texted the BTP (or so he says) when he had reason to believe someone went for a second walk in a twenty-four hour period when the ‘rules’ were to only leave the house for exercise once daily.

Boothby Graffoe was Djalili’s support act, and after making a schoolboy error of keeping the microphone on its stand such that he couldn’t be heard beyond the first few rows of the stalls when he moved position to engage in banter with some latecomers, his musical compositions went down well with the audience. Of particular note was a long patter song, listing the vast majority of countries in the world today, … eventually ended with a punchline that brought the house down.

Though Djalili is unconcerned with negative reviews, this seems to be because of a belief that if his career were to take a nosedive, it would be at the hands of ‘cancel culture’ more than anything else. He had his fair share of heckles during the evening, even if – as he repeatedly noted – they were, without exception, complimentary. While not every punchline resulted in raucous laughter, there were elements of familiarity for almost anyone who has attended comedy gigs before: the one person with a ridiculous but hearty laugh that is itself amusing, a seemingly serious point about the Government of the day that turns out to be a send-up, the rambling anecdote that doesn’t have a definitive conclusion, or if it does, the comedian’s forgotten it.

Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), it’s been a rough couple of years for anyone and everyone who works in live entertainment. A story about a drive-in gig at Brent Cross shopping centre car park, when the country was in tiers (remember that?), highlighted that absolutely nothing beats an in-person audience in a theatre or a concert hall. A touching tribute to fellow comedian Sean Lock (1963-2021) was a charming addition to proceedings. The observational comedy may not have been escapism from the world at large, but it was relatable, thoughtful and enjoyable. A decent night out.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

After experimenting with a Zoom gig where he got muted by 639 people and a Drive-in gig where Omid witnessed an audience member get out his car, attach a hosepipe to his exhaust and feed it through the window; multi-award-winning comedian and actor Omid Djalili is now where he belongs, on a stage and bringing back the Good Times.

https://www.omidnoagenda.com/

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