Humour born from ‘anger and frustration’

Migrant Adaptation

GMT 15:52 Thursday ,16 April 2015

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Sajeela Kershi is a comedian, but her show, Immigrant Diaries, “was born out of anger and frustration.

“I got exasperated at reading and watching the same old negative dialogue about immigrants,” she says.

“I’m an immigrant myself who is very ‘home counties’, well-spoken, and I’m probably the only Asian woman who runs a successful award-winning comedy club in the heart of Surrey - Comedy Cottage Redhill – very, very British in many ways, yet it’s never enough.

“I’m constantly made to feel like I don’t belong here, I’m the outsider and that I should go home. I’m British and this IS my home. Why do I always have to prove myself?”

There’s more (she’s not short of words, which is a help doing stand-up):

“What’s so wrong with being a product of two cultures? Culture is a moving thing and, yes, immigrants do help change British culture. Why does that have to be a negative?

“I grew up wishing we could have fish fingers and chips like my English friends as no-one could stand the smell of curry. Now curry is the national staple.”

She sees the show - which will be performed during the Changing Britain festival at London’s Southbank Centre in April – as an antidote to the antiimmigration rhetoric.

“Our strapline is ‘Statistics don’t tell the story - people do’. So comedians and others tell true stories from their own lives. It’s the sharing of these very personal true stories that connect us.”

One of the guests for the Southbank performance is Dave Cohen, best known in the business for his work on the TV satire programme, Spitting Image, with whom she is setting up a charity, Jamjars, short for Jews and Muslims Joined Against Racism.

Immigrant Diaries will be staged at the Southbank Centre, London in April, and along with her new stand-up show, ‘Shallow Halal’, at the Brighton Festival in May and in Edinburgh in August.

 
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