During the Fringe performers are putting themselves out to the public for criticism and for joy. Sadia Azmat and Vittorio Angelone are taking part in PBH’s Free Fringe. Sadia Azmat is a practising Muslim comedian, she has been on the comedy scene for eight years and has been part of many festivals, including the Fringe, since then. She also has a weekly podcast with Monty Onanuga on BBC Sounds, No Country for Young Women, in which they discuss relationships, sex, womanhood and balancing their ethnic. Vittorio Angelone is an up-and-coming comedian who has only been on the scene since 2017. However, he is making waves both on TV and in comedy clubs from Ireland to England to Scotland. He is young and refreshing, tackling serious issues via comedy.
For both, comedy is their love and their art and through the Free Fringe, they are bringing it to others.
The Student’s Georgia Herriott was lucky enough to have a few words with Azmat and Angelone about their sets, the struggles of stand up and of course their important themes or racism after their show, Random Bag Check.
GH: Sadia, I am a regular listener to your podcast and my favourite podcast of yours and Monty Onanuga’s is when you talk about your families, so of course I was thrilled when you started the joke about your father in Random Bag Check. I have to ask – does your father truly practice polygamy? And how do you feel about this?
Azmat: It is true. It is something I find difficult to see my mum being hurt by it and it makes me personally fear being cheated on but I have learned a lot from it.
GH: Have you done the fringe before?
Angelone: This is my first time but I have enjoyed it, I could definitely see myself coming again.
Azmat: This is my fourth year with the Fringe and I love it, next year I would love to do a longer set, maybe an hour.
GH: What still makes stand up exciting for you?
Azmat: It’s so important that you love what you do and stand up is still something I can come to work and love.
Angelone: It’s amazing but there can still be hard parts like you place your mental health on it and get down if it’s a bad show and you don’t feel better until you do better and get more laughs.
Azmat: I would agree, it is tough not to get down.
Angelone: It’s important to talk about things lightly so that only they are discussed. In the set I mention my anxiety, however, it’s not the entirety of it. It’s important for people to look at me, a 23-year-old, average guy and see that I struggle too. Speaking about things at length sometimes doesn’t help, and makes people tiptoe around things.
GH: Is stand-up something you would recommend?
Angelone: No! There are too many white, male comedians – stop taking my job! Seriously though, it’s brilliant but you wanna have a brand, and it is hard for white guys as we can all be seen the same.
Azmat: Yeah, it must be really hard as a white man trying to get a leg up in the world! Nah, when you’re in a circuit you see lots of white men working hard but they don’t make it big because there’s too many. As a fellow comedian, I can see why it’s hard. I’d also like there to be no more Hijabis, it’s quite a niche and there’s already two of us.
GH: You both have platforms to deal with the issues raised today and Sadia you have often make jokes on your social media about racism, do either of you think that it is taken less seriously because of the fact you’re tackling it from a comedic perspective?
Angelone: Some would say it’s a serious issue and you shouldn’t joke about it but if you raise it’s still being raised no matter how it’s done and it gets people talking. In my set I made some anti-Irish jokes and most people don’t know about the struggles and it’s crazy, but they go out there and talk about it after the show.
Azmat: It’s refreshing to hear Vittorio talk about racism because not enough white people are talking about it, comedy is the last place you can have, like, real free speech without holding back and I think that’s a really great thing.
Angelone: The more you close a topic off from discussion the more people will talk about it in private with others who think that way and the less they’ll see it’s a bad thing – like, don’t tell someone that it’s something not to do. Segregation in comedy isn’t good, it should be a fair playing ground and there shouldn’t be a limit to talk about.
Speaking to the pair gives a greater understanding of comedy as a way to talk about the seriousness of topics such as mental health and racism. Many believe that comedy is simply there to be used as entertainment however Azmat and Angelone highlight how comedy is a fantastic way to open up conversations about social issues.
Random Bag Check is on at Voodoo Rooms – French Quarter
At 15:05 until 25th August
This show is part of PBH’s Free Fringe
See our review here
Image: Shehla Bling