Omid is a schmuck. He wants you to be aware of this. And ‘schmuck’, he says, is that most self-effacing, and most Jewish of words.

Omid Djalili: Schmuck for a Night

Grand Opera House

Sun Feb 5, 2017

Theatre website

This is a show, now in the midst of a massive 110 date tour, that is built on his past mistakes: the occasional twitter faux pas; the joke that falls flat; the non-PC riff on, say, Mandela (yes) that goes on that little bit too long: in Johannesburg.

The larger point is this: even though an angry orange squash is presently the American President, despite Brexit being perhaps a fatal mistake (“We’ve made our decision!” a running line), no matter how stressful the world is, just be a schmuck, laugh at yourself, and get on with it.

Djalili is a master of dialect and accents, effortlessly switching between what his Egyptian relative has said (hah, no way) with narration in his natural London accent.

He touches all the topics an outspoken British comedian of Iranian descent would be expected to, in this age of Trumpery: a certain wall; Muslim bans; ISIS; Brexit. He refuses to take sides on the referendum: then likens sticking to it, stubbornly, with British obstinacy.

Mocking the lot

The worst jokes, the most obvious groaners, are immediately celebrated with a quick, raunchy belly dance (I loved this). He mocks Jews. Muslims. Trans folks (yes. Just go with it). Himself, constantly. The Finnish language. Everyone in Malta.

His rare, pointed social comments are served with a helping of inanity, and even Little Englanders, one suspects, will laugh. Else why come to this show?

This is quite the all-encompassing tour: from Kirkwall, Orkney to the Isle of Wight (almost the same week!), Djalili has made it his mission to reach as many Brits as he can with the message: Calm down! Who hasn’t messed up? Brexit, Schmexit: We’re all schmucks.

Somehow, even for an expat American, this was comforting. Djalili is next back near York when he’s in Leeds on 24 March, and in Harrogate 19 May.

This show is highly recommended. I may head over to Leeds for another dose of Djalili Therapy in March, or even Harrogate, which will be the penultimate show before he closes to what is sure to be an enthusiastic home crowd in London. Go get a belly laugh or two for yourself. These days, we need it.