It’s no coincidence that Nazeem Hussain would co-opt a well-known Cypress Hill song (“Insane in the Membrane”) as the title of his latest stand up show at the 2016 Adelaide Fringe, “Hussain in the Membrane”. Both Hussain and members of the Californian band have migrant roots (Cuban and Sri Lankan respectively), with Hussain making full use of his ethnic upbringing, using it as comic fodder to adequate effect. Whilst Hussain manages to juggle various topics such as Santa Claus, the Yakuza, and Neo-Nazis, ultimately his act gets a bit repetitive and tiresome due to the constant “Muslim me vs. the racist world” shtick.
Hussain’s high-octane energy is immediate when he enters the stage. His electric personality makes mundane topics such as walking to school, marriage and house hunting seem not only irresistible to listen to, but hilarious. Domestic tales like these are preferable to the “stupid white man” jokes such as the police placing a five year old on the no fly list, Twitter beef with a neo Nazi, and a boxer with a racist tattoo. Hussain’s decision to tackle racism head on is certainly admirable, however fifty minutes of it without revealing any new profundities can be quite vexing.
The crowd on the night was mostly pleasant with the exception of one rotund Caucasian gentleman at the front row who no one asked to do an offensive Indian accent, and a lady at the back who refused to put her phone on silent. Overall, Hussain’s lively show was hugely entertaining, but a wider range in topics and more depth in his content, especially in the more serious segments, would have improved his stand up.
3 out of 5 stars