Comedy review: Shappi Khorsandi, Pleasance Courtyard

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DARK times, they say, have the power to bring out the poets. Presumably, that applies to comedians as well.

Take, for example, Shappi Khorsandi. Forced to flee her homeland, divorced, and cheated on by a rock star boyfriend, you’d think the Iranian-born stand-up wouldn’t have much to laugh about.

Think again. Humour is often born out of despair, and this stalwart of the Fringe turns her personal issues into brilliantly written jokes in new show Dirty Looks And Hopscotch.

Anyone familiar with the 39-year-old from her appearances on television – she’s been on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Live At The Apollo, etc – might have the wrong impression about her.

Don’t be fooled. She may be typecast on telly as being “fluffier than a blow-dried hamster”, but there’s nothing fluffy about her comedy in a live room.

The material is very much of the adult variety, and earlier in her Fringe run a family had to be removed when a young child was spotted in the audience.

Khorsandi begins by showing us a book from primary school in which she wrote about Iran and its people, and their varying skin tones.

She moves on to the abuse she gets on Twitter, where trolls claim she only got where she is because she’s Iranian and a woman. “The two key elements that you need to appear on a Radio 4 panel show,” she jokes.

We also hear that her first kiss was with an Iranian refugee in the suburbs of Paris, that she ended up snogging a clown one drunken night during the Fringe, and that she recently sampled life as a lesbian. “Women are hard work,” she deadpans.

For the most part, though, the show is about a recent affair she had with a well-known rock star, whom she refuses to name. “A man,” she says, “whose idea of safe sex is Radox and hope.”

Though Khorsandi occasionally lets the pace of the show flag, you won’t be sorry if you go to see her.

Rating: ***

• Until August 26