Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Radu Isak walks the fine line between having a unique point of view and being pigeonholed as a one-note comedian.
This show is a satire far more than stand up comedy. It is a commentary on trying to make it in a country that doesn’t get who you are rather than a series of laughs. Radu Isak is Romanian and he says, “This whole country thinks immigrants like it here. We don’t. We would rather go home; but we cannot.”
The show is understated in every way. Isak says “I don’t put on music, so you can enjoy your own thoughts,” when he takes the stage in the tiny basement room in the Argyle Bar. “Let’s assume we”ll have fun and we will all have a better time.”
Isak moved to the UK two years ago and says he is the poorest comedian trying to work the UK circuit. He talks about taking so many drugs when he first came here that he never got addicted to just one. He believes Eastern Europeans are underrated and that is possibly because when any of them manage to speak English, they sound like Russians.
His monologue touches on many subjects: the unending traffic on the roads, minimum wage, violence and wake up calls to name a few. They are all seen through the eyes of someone new to this country. Isak hates that he is judged by appearance only and he says, “We’ve forgotten that people get past (what you see on) the outside. That’s why they get married.” “He discusses how difficult it is for someone new to the UK to figure out what is politically correct and he says, ”PC hasn’t made it to Romania.”
It is important to understand that Isak is a very successful stand-up comedian in Romania but his humor has a rough time translating into British sensibility. He tells us that we don’t have to love everyone. In fact it is good to not like something and he concludes, ”We need to learn from bears. When things go wrong, they hibernate.”
This is not a funny show. It can only be considered comedy by a huge stretch of the imagination. BUT it is well delivered and Isak is a very endearing man. The audience leaves with a far clearer understanding of how the immigrants we criticize so readily really feel about their experience here. If we are honest, we know we could do a lot better for them. A good show.