24 February 2023

Multicultural Comedy Gala hits the Riverina to celebrate what makes Australia great

| Glenn Pallister
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Veteran comedian Tahir will be in the Riverina this weekend. Photo: Supplied.

The stand-up comedy scene in the Riverina has gone from strength to strength over the past year as the region has reopened, and we’re in for a treat this weekend as The Multicultural Comedy Gala rolls into Wagga and Junee.

A superb line-up of some of Australia’s best stand-up comedians and emerging talent will take a look at the lighter side of cultural identity and poke fun at what makes us all different but so much the same.

Tahir is an award-winning internationally acclaimed comic known for his hugely popular live performances, which have spanned two decades and many TV appearances.

His name and face are instantly recognisable to most of us from stand-up on Rove Live and The Footy Show and Aussie sitcoms such as Here Come The Habibs, Fat Pizza and Housos.

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As an Aussie of Turkish decent, Tahir’s act has always featured strong multicultural themes and he reflected on the underlying message of the gala tour and the pitfalls of race-based comedy.

“Every act and performer will tell hilarious stories about their culture and upbringing and shine a torch on our Australian way of life,” he said.

“It might be called the Multicultural Comedy Gala but the message is clear – we are all Australians with different heritages and stories and nobody takes themselves too seriously as we take the piss out of ourselves and upbringing and each other … which is exactly the Australian sense of humour.”

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With growing sensitivities around race and culture, Tahir says his act has had to evolve with the times.

“Over 20 years ago, I had one of the main roles on a show called Fat Pizza and Housos which was considered groundbreaking, risky and hilarious,” he said.

“Looking back on those early days, we would be cancelled if we did the same jokes today!”

Tahir has continued to fine-tune his act over his performing and writing journey but he said sometimes, audiences needed to relax.

“The funny thing is, sometimes you tell a joke that is seemingly offensive or racist, and even if an individual finds it funny personally, they will be too scared to laugh because they are aware of other audience members!” he said.

“What’s happened to our Australian sense of humour? It’s slowly disappearing, which is sad.”

Multicultural Comedy Gala

The Multicultural Comedy Gala hits the Riverina next weekend. Photo: Supplied.

For Tahir, honesty and authenticity are at the core of the Multicultural Comedy Gala and he said we shouldn’t be afraid to laugh along with the acts.

“It can be easier for ethnics to make jokes about their own background, but the point is, it is their own stories and experiences,” he said.

“Great comedy is often born from the truth, which in this line-up is our real experiences.”

The gala is a celebration of diversity and the Australian multicultural identity and promises to leave you captivated, connected, and smiling at our proudly inclusive heritage.

Joining Tahir is a stacked line-up (which in the industry means a show full of headliners) including former World Improv Champion, Rebecca De Unamuno, Dilruk Jayasinha, Fiona O’Loughlin, Khaled Khalafalla and Wagga’s own Dane Simpson.

The show hits the Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre on 3 March at 8 pm and the Junee Athenium Theatre on 4 March at 8 pm.

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