Eshaan Akbar @ Gilded Balloon

A slightly uneven first show from talented comedian Eshaan Akbar

Review by Ben Venables | 03 Aug 2017
  • Eshaan Akbar @ Gilded Balloon

There is plenty of conflict in Eshaan Akbar's upbringing from which to mine material. His family are divided into the opposite sides of the disastrous partition of Pakistan and, growing up in Britain, he had rather mixed messages from the political odd couple of a Thatcherite mother and traditional Labour father. Meanwhile, his Muslim faith was tested by, and couldn't compete with, the allure of beers and bacon. Also, Akbar also prefers stand-up to banking.

With the political and religious themes in the background, while growing up a western guy with all the normal indulgences – such as sticking a porny adaptation of Robin Hood on his parents' bank card – it all offers Akbar the kind of cast and confrontations we might find in a Hanif Kureishi novel or screenplay.

Yet Akbar chooses to stay on the surface in this debut hour. He injects a little energy with a Bollywood dance but his routines seem less polished than on the occasions he has performed short sets, such as when he won Piccadilly Comedy Club's New Comedian of the Year in 2016. When he raises the odd religious taboo, he skirts the issues and seems over-cautious. Not wishing to make the room tense and uncomfortable, he doesn't attempt the bigger corresponding laugh which can follow by doing so. But when Akbar hits his stride – with, for instance, a nice routine on the 'Musim Tinder' (Minder) – he demonstrates a little more of his obvious potential.

Eshaan Akbar: Not for Prophet, Gilded Balloon, Teviot (Turret), until 27 Aug (not 15), 2.45pm, £8-£10

This review is based on a first day preview performance