Egyptian-born Akmal emigrated to Australia with his family when he was 11 years of age. From the roof of his 20-storey apartment building in Cairo he could see the pyramids and the sphinx. Imagine what it was like then when his parents took him to see the Big Banana in Queensland. That is just one of the pearlers that Akmal lays on us during a super 60-minute set.
If you are sitting near the front or arrive late, beware … because you are a target for his biting wit. He starts by talking about the impact Will Smith Oscars’ slap had on Chris Rock’s financial cachet, before linking that situation back to himself. Singling out a 19-year-old in the front row, he talks about how times have changed since he was a kid.
Akmal – who lives in the northern rivers in NSW – discusses what a weird time it has been over the past couple of years. He says conspiracy theorists have been out in force, pleading with him not to get the jab and then proceeds to tell us what the hidden benefits of vaccination are. That leads to a few minutes about the closest Australia has come to civil war, namely the Cronulla riots in 2005. The kicker is what quintessential Aussie pastime ended the dissent.
Michael Jackson and Prince get a quick look in. Then he relates the story of how he turned the tables on a mate and former barrister who believes the moon landing was a hoax. One of the things Akmal has missed since COVID-19 is travelling. He reels off some of the more remote places in Australia he visited in days gone by, using that to address the issue of refugees. Sex and peeing are ripe for the picking in Akmal’s set too.
Sharing a dressing room with tall drag queens at Adelaide Fringe had unintended consequences, as did an unwanted encounter in that city. Akmal speaks about his marriage and their decision not to have kids. He parlays that into a reflection of a dear friend’s decision to encourage them to live stream the birth of one of her five children. Allowing three dogs to sleep on his bed has its decided drawbacks, which Akmal explains.
He has nailed down how you can tell if you are in the presence of a sexual predator and unloads on religion. Jesus and the Pope do not escape. Assimilation – lack thereof and too much – makes for more laughter before he calls for audience questions, which readily bring more guffaws.
The Best of Akmal is a fun filled show, which is very easy on the ear. He takes the everyday and turns it on its head, as well as capitalising on his background and experiences. Many of his observations are golden. Akmal is undoubtedly one of the best comics doing the rounds. He challenges, cajoles and charms … and with that puts smiles on people’s faces. There are no airs and graces about him. He is down to earth and very funny … and definitely worth a visit.
The Best of Akmal is playing at the Athenaeum Theatre, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, until 24th April, 2022.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- MICF A-List Comedy Sampler – theatre review
- Let’s Be Friends Furever (The Good Room) – theatre review
- Cruel Intentions The 90’s Musical (Athenaeum Theatre) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.