British comedian Sameena Zehra is delightfully wicked, playful, and upbeat in the face of the world’s problems. She’s got a solution – a culling list, built from a questionnaire that determines whether or not you should continue to walk the face of the earth.
Zehra rips through her material, barely pausing to let the full effect of either the joke or the emotional weight of her comments sink in. Perhaps this is because this is the first time she’s performed the show at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival – she’s sussing us out, trying to figure out how much pressure we can take, and how much comedy is needed to relieve it. Perhaps she’s so familiar with her material that she’s just eager to be through it (she’s been performing Homicidal Pacifist for a couple of years, and this is its last airing). For some of her jokes, this quick-fire delivery is ideal, snappy satire. For others, particularly the longer stories from Zehra’s intense and fascinating past, a few pauses would allow the audience time to fully imagine the amazing, absurd scenarios the comedian has found herself in.
There is an unexpected amount of warmth spilling off Zehra, surprising for a woman who wises to cut down on the population through mass murder. The stand up is a fiercely physical woman, an excellent comedic complement to her engaging intellectual questions and meandering storytelling. Yet at the show’s heart is a call for progression and compassion, not violence and segregation.
Homicidal Pacifist is on at 7:30pm at Little Sista until Sunday April 17th. Tickets cost $20-25 and are available online and at the door.