Omid Djalili

A surprise Christmas from my wife was tickets to see Omid Djalili at a theatre in Birmingham in February.

Great having a weekend to look forward to and oddly the first time we had left the kids to themselves overnight – just not got around to it before (at 14 and 16 years old, they really don’t need us around all of the time).

I booked a room at a hotel that looked near to the theatre. I used points gained from my many nights away from home so it did not cost us anything.

Bad timing on my wife’s part meant that she was working at the opticians in the morning but I picked her up at lunch time and pointed to Brum. We stopped briefly for a road-side bacon sandwich on the way but got there in good time.

Sadly the hotel did not have its own car-park, had to use a multi-storey next door. Always tricky with my big soft-roader.

Nice enough hotel (Holiday Inn). I think the wife liked it but it was like being at work for me. Sad.

We had plenty of time to wander around shops for a while but first with did a quick check to find the theatre and were pleased to find the front entrance just around the corner. We also realised we were very near the Chinese Quarter – so that was evening meal sorted.

The theatre seats presented a negative-legroom challenge for me. Looked like I had been riding a very large horse.

When the show started, there was an annoucement that Omid would come on in the second half of the show. Some other bod was then introduced. The audience was clearly surprised and disappointed. Fortunately, the bod in question was well aware of the cliff before him, made a decent joke about it and started playing his guitar very well and singing some very funny songs. He had a neat trick with a gizmo on the floor that went unnoticed at first that allowed him to repeat any sequence he played on the guitar thus we were all thrown when part way through playing an especially complex bit if music he took his hands off the guitar and picked up his pint for a quick drink. He later used the device to build up backing tracks that he then played against.

In fairness, he was only on for around half-an-hour but we then had a break that felt like half-an-hour. As the show started at 8.10 and was scheduled to finish at 10.10 according to information outside of the theatre, we did not expect to see Omid for long.

When he did arrive, it took a while for him to warm up. He was very good. It was clear he was trying out some new material and some was not as good as other. Overall he was very entertaining. He focused much more on race, racism and playing with race than he did on TV and I felt despite his various caveats that he was antisemitic at times although he did say he liked Jews (he suggested that his manager was a Jew – I was not convinced). Hard to call it really as he is deliberately pushing the edge to make you respond. He came back a couple of times and on his last turn got members of the audience to shout out about problems they had. I suspect at least one was planted but nethertheless, it was funny when he made up dances to address the problems the audence member experienced.

When we left the theatre by a side-door close to our seats, we were surprised to be less than 2 minutes from the rear entrance to the hotel. Brilliant.

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