Humza Arshad presents Diary of a Badman
Mixed bag from the Badman
This article is from 2013.
Humza Arshad first came to prominence thanks to his phenomenally popular Diary of a Badman series, which has had more than 47 million views on YouTube. In it, he plays a hyper, stereotypical version of himself, deriving humour from the day-to-day life of a British Pakistani Muslim, a lot of the time failing in his attempts to get the girl. This semi self-deprecating style follows him to the stage in his first stand-up show, as does his character’s high-pitched and very loud delivery.
Arshad is a charismatic guy, prefacing each new tangent he speeds off on with a question to the audience; this could potentially grow tired, but doesn’t thanks to his tendency for off-the-cuff and sometimes leftfield remarks that strike a chord with the crowd. Indeed, it’s these sharp asides that are more likely to summon the laughs than his long-form storytelling which, while compelling and insightful, is guilty of rambling in the build-up to punchlines which occasionally fall flat.
Rather like his YouTube series, Arshad’s stand-up centres on his experiences of being Asian in Britain, focusing on the differences between himself, his family and friends, and the white people he encounters. He riffs on race in an inoffensive, well-structured manner (‘where I live, white people are an endangered species’), including a droll piece about the perils of being in love with a racist at primary school.
Where he does fall down is in the polarity of his material; while there are some segments which are smart and thoughtful, he does rely an awful lot on puerility (‘your mum has a penis’, ‘donkey dicks’). While this may all be part of in-depth character development, Arshad is a lot funnier when he’s being a bit more natural.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 25 Aug, 10.45pm, £11–£12 (£10–£11).