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Comedy Review Asian championing comedy night brings the sauce

JAMES WALSH has his expectations unceremoniously brushed aside by an assorted bunch of inspired wits

Brown Sauce
2Northdown, London


DO YOU ever get sick of going to a comedy night, and finding your entertainment for the evening is largely interchangeable guys called Dave?

Sharlin Jahan sure did, particularly as she’d find herself on alongside them as the token non-white performer.

So she set up her own night, the excellent Brown Sauce, to provide a platform for the best south Asian performers and “other Asian friends.”

As host and MC, Canadian/Bangladeshi comedian Jahan is an energetic, rumbustious presence, even when operating largely on fumes. As with the similarly excellent Weapons of Mass Hilarity, a night for acts with links to the Middle East, Brown Sauce attracts an audience beyond the usual Friday night crowd.

She is excellent at drawing in the n00bs and regulars alike, reminding us all that audience interaction is best when it comes from a place of love, mutual understanding, and laughing at the absurdity of British drinking culture.

“Am I brown?” So asks first act Josh Weller, a dual heritage but thoroughly non-Asian comedian with a fine line in intellectual dissections of Ricky Martin lyrics.

Only the broader, lazier shock jock material, like an ill thought through bit about the Depp/Heard trial, didn’t really land here.

Tiny, no-nonsense, and approximately 50 per cent spectacles, Shalaka Kurup is deadpan joy.

Just like leaves on the line, Karup is the wrong kind of doctor for the rails of her family’s expectations, so it’s a good job she knows a great deal about both the Byzantine nature of Britain’s fragmented rail network and making strangers laugh.

Did you hear the one about the Japanese American guy doing an impression of a white American guy doing an impression of a black American guy from the early noughties.

No mockery here from the excellent Sam Singh — the joke isn’t on his Japanese-heritage friend, the joke is on us for our expectations and on society for being such a glorious and ridiculous melting pot.

Indian/Irish comedian Dane Buckley, meanwhile, exudes confidence, charm and knowing camp, and does hilarious impressions of both sides of his family in a way the rest of us could never get away with.

Tonight’s headliner, Mark Silcox, is a gloriously strange man.

All standard stand-up rules and beats go out of the window when he’s on stage, but the set-up — seemingly rambling, utterly planned — just builds absurdity upon absurdity of the character’s world and his place within it.

Armed merely with two balloons and plenty of advice from Steve Martin, Silcox leaves the majority of the audience in utter hysterics and a few unsure about what on Earth they have just seen.

Which was, from where I was sitting, an absolute masterclass.

Brown Sauce returns to 2Northdown in London Kings Cross on July 29, and takes place at the Edinburgh Fringe August 16-21,, Tel 0131 226 0026.



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