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May 2, 2012 / Siobhan Argent

Imaan Hadchiti in Bigger Than Jesus – Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Published April 2012 in Crikey

Imaan Hadchiti’s wicked 2011 show, A Little Perspective, was a tantalising promise to the audience that this little guy (at something like 3-foot-nothing in height) had a crazy knack for bulldozing people who patronised him for being a ‘little person’.

So it was with keen interest that I approached his latest offering, Bigger Than Jesus, only to be disappointed by an unstructured, wandering, poorly planned attempt to inject a different flavour into a routine that already worked so well. It wasn’t broken, but Imaan tried to fix it.

It starts off promisingly. Imaan is, naturally, Jesus Christ, complete with requisite facial hair, white robe and the kind of ass-wiggling that would make background dancers in rap videos very proud.

But it quickly becomes apparent that Jesus jokes are not where Imaan’s strength really lies. ‘God’ comes into the picture through the speakers in a pre-recorded message, but the rapport between him and Jesus just doesn’t come off that well. The interactions are unpolished and awkward and it’s hard to get into the spirit of a gag that is mildly funny to begin with, but difficult to sustain for an entire show.

That’s not to say that Bigger Than Jesus didn’t have some bright sparks every once in a while, but the weaknesses of Imaan’s show became clear when two guest comedians (Gordon Southern and Anil Desai) appeared onstage at separate intervals. They dazzled with jokes that were probably well-rehearsed and often used but, most importantly, they were jokes that each comedian was totally comfortable with. It contrasted sharply with Imaan’s material, which veered somewhat aimlessly from homosexuality to a whisper of politics and, of course, religion.

Imaan can be a crudely funny guy when he’s comfortable with his material. Bigger Than Jesus shows gumption, in that Imaan broke new comedy ground rather than staying in his comfort zone. He took a shot and that shows a certain level of promise. While it felt as though the material in Bigger Than Jesus didn’t gel this year, Imaan can always ‘turn the other cheek’ (like the big guy upstairs) and have another crack next year.

The Comedy Festival has finished for 2012.


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