WITH top comedienne Shappi Khorsandi set to bring the laughs to Evesham on November 1, Observer reporter Jonny Bonell found out where it all started and what is next to come from the Iranian-born performer.
“From when I was really little all I wanted to do was make people laugh,” the 40-year-old said. “It is a bizarre compulsion that a lot of people get from a very young age and couple with wanting to perform, comedy was all I wanted to do.”
Despite Shappi admitting a career on the circuit was about ‘as likely as going to the moon’ she has hit the big time since her performance at the Cask and Head in Islington when she was just 23.
17 years on and the comedienne can count the likes of Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and 8 out of 10 Cats to her ever-growing CV.
After studying drama, television and theatre at Winchester University Shappi admitted it took longer than she would have liked to finally break on to the circuit.
“It was really frustrating and hard, I didn’t know how or where to start when I came back from university,” she said. “I didn’t have any money so I just went to every open mic night because it was only a couple of quid to get in, if not free.
“When you went to the open mic night sometimes you get really professional comedians coming out to try new materials.
“I started to do five minutes here and five minutes there and bang, ten years later I had a career.
“It took a long time, I pounded the streets for more than a decade before I was anywhere near able to get there.”
After pregnancy cut short any hopes of touring in 2013, the birth of her second child in June gave Shappi chance to create her new material.
And now she brings that new material in the show ‘Because I’m Shappi’ to brighten up Evesham Arts Centre. But what makes this one so special?
“I think this is the most fun show I have done,” she added. “I have had a year off having a baby on my own, that was kind of fun being pregnant and single.
“I do talk about being single and pregnant and talking about having two children with two different fathers and dating in that environment.
“It’s just about the strange world we live in. I think the difference between this show and my previous ones is that it is the most relatable show, it is the show people have connected with on a personal level.
“I love Evesham, it’s so pretty. I have played there before and it is gorgeous, even if I was hand-picking places I would put Evesham at the top of my list.”
Shappi admits despite reaching the heights she has, her ‘wildest dreams’ have yet to be met and that any journey taken as a comedian should never be looked back on in regret.
“You’re on a journey,” she said. “You can’t go back on your journey and say it didn’t go the way I wanted it to because I am still on it.
“I might be doing stuff now I could do a bit better but you just plough on.
“Stand-up is a compulsion, it’s an addiction, no matter how badly it goes if you have stand-up in your soul you will still carry on doing it.
“Every show has a unique charm of its own and we have a saying in stand-up that you are only as good as your last show.”
With that mind Vale residents will be hoping Shappi arrives in the town having reached her peak during her performance at Chorley Little Theatre on Friday (October 31).