Sajeela Kershi is the great aunt everyone wishes they had — bubbly, engaging, sarcastic and always smiling, she introduces us to her line-up. A diverse collection of speakers, her three crew members deliver small monologues, each adding a different perspective and new dimension to the term “immigrant”. An entertaining hour, Immigrant Diaries is as funny as it is interesting.
Kershi starts of by telling us about her experience of being a nomad. Left behind and then rescued in Germany, she arrives in Ladbroke Grove with a humorous anecdote of abandonment and an obsession with Christmas fairy lights. Her first guest, Iraqi-Jewish but British-bred Juliet Myers, presents us with the trials of constructing an national identity in the multicultural landscape that is Britain today. Jing Lusi commands the room with abundant confidence, her story flirting between comedy and sorrow, she gives a harrowing explanation of her struggles adapting to a new culture, underpinned by a sarcastic temperament that captures the attention of all in the room.
Ending with instrumental guitar by the charming Mike McKeon, Immigrant Diaries is more than a comedy show; it’s an exploration of the term “immigrant” and its impact, and at times feels more like a collaborative story-telling exercise than it does a performance. Utterly genuine, it skips the polished and superficial aspect of so many stand up comedians. Each performance is raw and each guest relates their tale with humour and joy. It is a joy to watch.
Often trotted out as a political buzzword, Kershi’s show presents a humane aspect to the term “immigrant” wrapped up in the vehicle of comedy. With a changing lineup each night, the show occasionally lacks a sense of continuity between the speakers, although this diversity is simultaneously its best aspect. Touching and informative, Immigrant Diaries plays with the boundaries of stand up comedy and is entirely engaging.
Immigrant Diaries: Sajeela Kershi and Guests is playing at The Assembly Rooms (Venue 20) from 24th- 30th August as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.