PREVIEW Shappi Khorsandi
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PREVIEW – Shappi Khorsandi – ‘Skittish Warrior…Confessions of a Club Comic’ UK Tour
Winchester Theatre Royal, Friday 25 October – 7.30pm
Shappi Khorsandi is no stranger to Winchester. She graduated from the University of Winchester (when it was still King Alfred’s College) in 1995, with a degree in Drama, Theatre and Television. The university awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2010.
Here, Shappi reflects on how stand-up comedy has undergone a huge transformation over the last 20 years: “It’s really changed. It’s got cleaner and more sober and a lot more career-minded. You meet 20-year-olds on the comedy circuit now who have a five-year plan.
“I’m sure stand-up is something career advisers at top private schools are telling their students to do. ‘You don’t want to go into the money markets or the law. You want to go into stand-up’. I feel very thankful that when I started out in comedy, it was punk. The ultimate aim was to play the clubs, not telly. That’s why my new show is a love letter to the comedy clubs.”
Shappi outlines the inspiration behind the show: “This is the 20th anniversary of me being a stand-up – I know, I don’t look old enough!. The show is a good opportunity to look back on how it all began. It talks about the bits that stand-ups don’t usually talk about, those behind the scene moments where doors get slammed in your face. It’s about rediscovering that early passion. It’s a celebration of the comedy circuit.”
She recalls starting out in comedy: “I was a nervous wreck. It was terrifying. I would phone the Comedy Store for an open spot, and if they picked up, I would put the phone down. I was treading water for the first 10 years. It’s a sort of madness to carry on doing something that is so precarious. But I always knew there was nothing else along my Yellow Brick Road!
“I was a guest on 8 Out Of 10 Cats, but I started daydreaming and completely lost the thread. When Jimmy Carr asked, ‘Shappi, what do you think?’, I didn’t know what anyone was talking about. I was daydreaming about becoming famous on the job that would have made me famous if I done it better! My show is about the funny side of failure. It’s an ode to being an underdog.
“It’s about realising that if you didn’t get something, it wasn’t what you wanted anyway. If it was very important for me to do well on panel shows, I wouldn’t have been daydreaming on panel shows! I look back on my career and see all the times I’ve sabotaged it. But if I had really wanted it, I would have got it. I’ve got two kids, and I really wanted them. It may sound cheesy, but they’re my greatest successes.”
Shappi says she has no regrets at all about starring on the reality TV show, I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!: “It changed my life. Because you’re hungry and have nothing to do in the jungle, it forces you to look at your life.
“It bought me time to re-evaluate my life. I realised what I didn’t want – to be on the front page of The Sun. That’s not worth anything. Doing stand-up, writing plays and books – those things have value and they were the things I wanted to come back to.”
On what to expect from the show, Shappi says she thrives on the buzz of live performance: “That’s the most exciting part. It’s the joy of the job. I get an absolute adrenaline rush on stage. For me, it’s always been about the live stuff.”
“I hope people will take away a great sense of warmth and a lot of heart. The show is saying it’s OK to be exactly who you are. The only person you should ever compete with is yourself. That’s quite wise. Write that down: ‘Shappi wisely said’!”
Shappi Khorsandi was speaking to James Rampton