Omid Djalili (3 stars)

This article is from 2008.

No one can really deny the lofty position that Omid Djalili now occupies in the British comedy world. Having begun in the Fringe wastelands a decade ago, he can pop by to do a week here fresh from a BBC1 Saturday night show deemed so successful by the corporation that he is all set for a second series. In the Pleasance Grand, his name is up in lights accompanied by explosions and dancing girls. But at what cost has he made it? Much of this show seems barely altered from that earlier period: he still belly dances (though to be fair, he has vowed never to give up on that particular mode of expression) and he follows up a harsh punchline with a snippet of a song to soften the blow.

Djalili is a mainstream fundamentalist. This can produce unshackled moments of populist joy but also contains some pretty hack gags linking Belgium with paedophilia, Germany with fascism and the Jewish with mean penny-pinching ways. More often than not, he will skilfully undermine the cliché with a subtle change of direction, but occasionally, he'll leave it hanging in the air. 'There is racism and there is playing with race,' he insists when it seems that he may have crossed some boundary. But just in case you’re worried about things getting too serious, there's always a Godzilla impersonation round the corner.

Pleasance Courtyard. Run ended

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