EFR - Reviews of Aatif Nawaz: Muslims Do It Five Times A Day

Aatif Nawaz: Muslims Do It Five Times A Day

Fri 7th – Sat 29th August 2015

reviews

Rowena Henley

at 10:02 on 10th Aug 2015

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Aatif Nawaz’s stand up, Muslims Do It Five Times A Day, got off to a very unpromising start. Perhaps due to nerves or excitement, Nawaz began by simply shouting down the mic and rushing over his words rather than providing any kind of quality comedy. From there, however, it only got better and better.

Nawaz’s comedy worked not only because it was genuinely funny (and at points side-splittingly hilarious), but also because it was grounded in an interesting subject matter and an entirely fresh perspective. Nawaz’s main aim for the evening was to prove that Muslims are “just like you” (a phrase he got us to recite repeatedly throughout the evening). Although it bordered on being patronizing at points, the message was both thought provoking and effective. Without even realising, our thoughts about the Muslim faith may be slightly askew due to constant media jargon and public misconceptions that often go unchallenged. However, Nawaz was not only dismantling the perception that Islam and violence go hand in hand (an opinion which anybody with any sense would hopefully not have bought in to) but also, more intelligently, the perception that Islam is a faith that cannot laugh at its own faults.

Nawaz, whilst a strong believer in Islam, is also a self-confessed critic of its more ridiculous elements. A moment which had me howling with laughter was a countdown of the top five most ludicrous fatwas (Islamic laws administered by a recognized authority). Without giving away too much to one of the evening’s most entertaining elements, these fatwas included ‘no naked sex’, ‘no living on mars’ and (“of course” Nawaz declares) ‘no Salman Rushdie’. These are statements which even the most sober among us would have difficulty not to chuckle at. And this was Nawaz fundamental aim: to use humour as a means for finding common ground (something which he undoubtedly achieved).

Although at points Nawaz’s audience interaction felt a little forced, on the whole it helped to add to the evening’s sense of togetherness. Furthermore, Nawaz handled hecklers with admirable ease, shutting down the most vocal among them and interacting with those that would add to the evening’s entertainment. Like most comedic talents, he was ruthless but fair.

I would encourage every single Fringe-goer to make a visit to Muslims Do It Five Times A Day. This was a stand up show with substance and one which explored serious themes without ever straying into preaching or sentimentality. If you want to be both entertained and educated, please head to Just The Tonic for this night of free comedy.

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Simon Fearn

at 10:21 on 10th Aug 2015

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Don’t be put off by the slightly crass title, Muslim’s Do It Five Times a Day is intelligent stand-up with an important message. Although he took a while to warm the room up, by the end Aatif Nawaz proved to be an endearing comedian, refreshingly earnest about combatting misconceptions surrounding Islam.

Nawaz’s humour is surprisingly approachable and isn’t as controversial as the subject matter would suggest. His ethos was that Muslims do stupid things just as much as everyone else, and ‘it’s OK to say they’re stupid’. This is not an approach that many other comedians feel comfortable taking.

Early routines offered well observed critiques of government policies following the Trojan Horse plot and the growth of ISIS, but the more enjoyable later sections were wonderfully silly, such as the inspired Top Five Fatwas. The audience felt utterly comfortable joking about topics they’d usually be too embarrassed to discuss, and the belly laughs came at an impressive rate.

The show delivered on its promise to give fresh insight into Islamic culture. Nawaz translated some filthy Bollywood lyrics with pitch perfect creepiness, and riffed on quite how much some Muslims hate pigs. At the beginning of the set, Nawaz came across as a little patronising, asking us to repeat that ‘Muslims are just like you’. But Aatif did not look down on his audience; he was simply passionate about passing on an important message, which also proved to be a lot of fun.

Nawaz himself came across as a thoroughly decent chap, and you could tell that his enthusiasm was genuine. He particularly excelled at audience interaction. His put-downs for hecklers were particularly stunning, and his repartee with individual audience members created a great atmosphere.

Nawaz’s set had it all. Like the best comedians, he wasn’t afraid to make himself the butt of many of his jokes, but he united this with uncommon sensitivity and fearless exploration of taboo topics. Nawaz is one of the bewildering array of stand-ups at the Fringe who is definitely worth your time.

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