In Athens is a handful of novice standups on the microphone after taking part in a collection of comedy workshops. One of many organizers, Vasileia Vaxevani, compares the expertise to the primary time you have got intercourse. “It ends rapidly. It hurts slightly. However you undoubtedly know you need to do it once more.”
Migration is the uncharacteristically enjoyable matter on the coronary heart of this present, which is produced by Counterpoint Arts and carried out by refugees and asylum seekers as a part of Refugee Week whose theme this 12 months was “therapeutic”. In such a various viewers as this gig, and in a rustic that has seen its societies break up on account of polarized responses to migration, the flexibility of this theme is apparent.
Award-winning British comic Tom Parry, who has helped ship the same collection of workshops and gigs for the No Path Residence program since 2018, led facilitators in Athens and Lesbos as they taught the notorious stand-up comedy artwork. He spoke to each migrants and non-migrants and advised them over Zoom that “you wouldn’t have to be humorous, you simply should be fascinating”.
On a sizzling afternoon on Lesbos, we see Salim Nabi, a as soon as Afghan refugee and now a Canadian resident, carry out on the Mosaic Middle within the finale of one other collection of workshops, co-produced with Miguel Selvelli from Nepantla Border Cultures. – Refugees, they’re troublemakers, says Nabi. Take the NGO Refugee 4 Refugees. It makes you suppose … Why is it written that approach? Nicely, they are saying that in case you let a refugee in, they’ll all of a sudden develop into 4 refugees. ”
Lesbos was beforehand residence to the Moria refugee camp, one of many largest in Europe, which burned down in 2020. The island noticed its inhabitants improve by 20,000 refugees, most of whom have now gone to neighboring international locations. However Lesbos stays a hub for these working within the migration sectors, and thereafter a hub for migrant-oriented artwork. The mosaic present featured seven comedians – a mixture of refugees, migrants, volunteers and NGO staff.
Jalal Joinda, facilitator of the Lesbos program, repeats Parry, saying: “Individuals suppose that if you wish to make others snigger, it’s essential to already know loads of jokes. However once you do standup, you’ll be able to publish your individual tales.” It’s notably helpful for refugees, he says, reflecting on his personal “nightmare” border crossings. Joinda, a former radio host and common media persona in Afghanistan, fled the nation along with her household in 2016 after political hostility. He first got here to Moria and lived and labored on Lesbos for a number of years earlier than transferring to Berlin. “I by no means need to overlook what occurred to me,” he says. . “
After we speak to a younger man from Central Africa on the Kara Tepe camp, Moria’s substitute, Joinda explains that as refugees, it will be important for each of them to achieve self-confidence. It’s one other engaging facet of those workshops, in addition to interacting with the area people in Mytilene, practising his English and passing the time ready for bureaucratic procedures comparable to receiving documentation papers (this man has been ready nearly two years for his). Comedy is “straightforward to digest”, Joinda tells me, making it one of the crucial highly effective nozzles. “Should you simply say horrible issues to individuals, it should be more durable for them to digest as a result of we’re all so bored with the shit happening world wide. Comedy is a method to ship robust messages to individuals with out feeling bored. ”
Comedy additionally creates a typical floor between societies which, though they’ve completely different experiences, may be linked to humor in on a regular basis observations. On the gig in Athens, two younger Afghan migrants – Arash and Majid – current materials about their respective incapability to flirt and trials of annoying cousins. Arash, who got here to Greece in 2016, is passionate about having realized tips on how to ship a punchline. “Majid advised very brazenly that that is the primary time somebody has requested him to inform a narrative about his life [in Afghanistan]”, Reveals Vaxevani. And on one thing apart from searching for asylum as properly. “The dialog is all the time, ‘Oh, the poor immigrant or refugee, poor Afghan, poor Syrian,'” Vaxevani states. However these newbie comedians are “actual individuals, they’ve fascinating tales, they’ve had complete, enjoyable lives”.
Because the warfare in Ukraine and the British authorities’s asylum system in Rwanda have saved migration in information headlines, comedy gives a brand new approach of framing discourse. As an alternative of treating them as a set of “sob tales” and objects of inhuman politics, the artwork of standing up permits migrants to be simply human beings.