Vidura Bandara Rajapaksa @ Monkey Barrel

Vidura Bandara Rajapaksa's Edinburgh Fringe debut has potential, but often treads tired ground

Review by Anita Bhadani | 15 Aug 2022
  • Vidura Bandara Rajapaksa

Vidura Bandara Rajapaksa’s debut hour sees him tackling an array of topics with a laid back, nonchalant delivery – from techno clubs in Berlin to immigrating to the UK from Sri Lanka, to a very funny gag involving Ratatouille.

The eclectic topics Rajapaksa covers have ripe potential for comedic material, and so it’s slightly disappointing that some of the punchlines drawn aren’t as strong as the material welcomes. For example, mocking the hypocrisy of vegans who take cocaine recreationally, or poking fun at the ‘stereotypical’ nature of him, as a South Asian, training as a doctor, then a software engineer – while these elicit laughs from the crowd, they’re nothing new.

Indeed, at times it’s wondered who exactly a joke is for. Repeating something a date told him (“Are there houses in Sri Lanka?”), for example, seems less funny than it is tragic – and it especially feels a bit uncomfortable to hear some white audience members find humour in this when arguably these views are sadly too common to find laughable just yet.

A more unique moment within the set is found in hearing Rajapaksa explore his desire to move abroad competing with the guilt of leaving Sri Lanka. It is in these moments of vulnerability that Rajapaksa shines, and offers something which shows a bit more depth from a comic and goes beyond a cheap laugh.

That’s not to suggest that a quick one-liner, or drawing from lighter, observational moments from the everyday have less comedic value. When delivered aptly, this can hold just as much ‘zing’ as a longer set up. However, it just so happens that in this set, a few of the one-liners arguably don’t bring much fresh to the table, in comparison to Rajapaksa’s more considered material.

Indeed, there are a few genuinely funny and unique moments in Monsoon Season that showcase Rajapaksa’s ability to deal with heavy topics with humour in a more measured and thoughtful way, and it would be good to see him expand on these in future work.

Vidura Bandara Rajapaksa: Monsoon Season, Monkey Barrel @ The Hive (Hive 2), until 28 Aug (not 15 & 16), 1.55pm, £6-7