If the meek ever do inherit the Earth, a prospect that admittedly looks increasingly unlikely, then Amir Khoshsokhan would be an appropriate court jester. If he can just keep the Tupac stuff quiet.
You do worry for the softly-spoken comic at the start of this particular gig. The Espionage toilets are emitting an unpleasant odour; a sullen, sodden audience has wandered in from the rain; and the microphone turns out not to be working.
That might not be a problem for most comics in a room this small, but Khoshsokhan’s shtick involves a lot of silence: long bewildered stares, painstakingly awkward shuffling about, and important bits of dialogue where the joke is that there is no actual dialogue. It could all go horribly wrong, and yet so compelling is Khoshsokhan’s curious manner that even the most unpromising crowd seems utterly mesmerised, as startled by him as he is by life.
His opening, signature bit is hardly original – musings on a nasty break-up. But that wide-eyed befuddlement breathes fresh life into a hoary topic. Then he moves onto the deceased, and a novel comparison between the influence of gangsta rappers, notably his beloved Tupac, and the debatable allure of dead hedgehogs. It’s a fine point, weirdly made.
Those long pauses also add useful clout to his punchlines. One particular reveal leads one rainy punter—who looked an unlikely fan, to say the least—to loudly shout “brilliant!” and almost offer a standing ovation, as if he’d just seen Houdini pull off a miraculous feat. A fine escape indeed.