Review | Krishna Istha uses comedy to explore gender identity

Beast | The Blue Room | Until 25 Jan | ★ ★ ★ ★

Krishna Istha is a performance artist who has embraced the techniques of stand up comedy, and while the name of the show takes inspiration from the fairytale of Beauty and The Beast, they have created a beast of their own, what do you get when you cross performance art with stand up?

Tackling topics like wokeness, gender identity, bisexuality, being non-binary, and misandry, Istha works his way through topics which are not often treated positively in the world of comedy. As a transgender, person of colour, Istha is more use to being the target of jokes than making them.

As a newcomer to art of comedy Istha tries out a variety of comedic styles, from delivering what was deservedly labeled a ‘Dad’ joke’, to creating a variety of characters, from using shock tactics, to sight gags, multiple techniques are given a whirl.

Overall the experience is one which is laugh-out-loud funny, and at other times the room was filled with groans, and occasionally the audience were heard to gasp. Like all good comedy Istha is here to share, to challenge, and to educate. Maybe the biggest challenge of this show is asking an audience to laugh at things we’ve been told for so long not to make fun of- the performer has set themselves quite a challenge.

Straddling two different art forms, using the theoretical inquisition of one, and the performative tools of the other, this union is an unusual one. It’s not stand up, maybe it’s stand up then sit down and think for a bit. It wavers between the intellectual and the comedic, and at times it’s just plain silly, but it never quite brings the two opposing forces together. Which creates a scenario where what could have been hard hitting power punches don’t quite hit their targets.

This what fringe shows should be, odd, uncomfortable, challenging, subversive and ultimately rewarding.

See Beast until 25th of January.

Graeme Watson is an editor at OUTinPerth. He has a background in writing, dance, theatre, radio and film working as a performer, producer and writer. He is a casual academic at ECU, and writes for a variety of publications. Graeme has been working as a reviewer since 1997.

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