Headscarf and the Angry Bitch (Zehra Fazal) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

Just walked out of Headscarf and the Angry Bitch and oh boy, what a show! This one woman piece is a fantastic combination of stand-up meets musical meets social commentary, while being 100% roll-on-the-floor funny.

I got to the venue early and sat in the theatre listening to old Bollywood songs which instantly put a smile on my face. I have to say I was surprised to see so many people there for a 1pm show on a Monday.

The show starts off with the angry bitch (Zehra Fazal) playing the guitar and singing a song about what it’s like to be a Hijab wearing Muslim, trying to catch a flight post-9/11. The audience is instantly hysterical and this continues till the very end of the show.

The basic premise is about a Muslim woman who is hired by a New Jersey community centre to educate the locals about Islam and what it’s like to be a Muslim living in North America. She has cue cards and reads us definition of things like Halal and Haraam and other basic Islamic beliefs while telling us completely inappropriate stories.

Zehra’s energy is contagious and there was roaring laughter from the audience when she sang her songs about everything from Ramadan and the importance of virginity in her culture to coming out as a lesbian to her parents. The songs were all set to the music of popular artists including Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson which made her lyrics that much funnier.

I grew up in the Middle East and was shocked at the taboo subjects that she blatantly makes fun of. In that part of the world they would have had her head for this material – literally.

This show may seem like a mockery of the Islamic culture, but it’s actually very educational and provides great insight to people that don’t have an understanding of South Asian culture and its idiosyncrasies.

There is a lot of rage behind the comedy as you can imagine. Growing up a woman in a culture where women are not really allowed to be free does take its toll, but Zehra manages to take all of that and translate it into a gem of a show.

The end of the show was the best part but I won’t say anything else to ruin it for you; except that it ended with a standing ovation. If you’re looking to go see something funny with your friends that you can talk about after, this is the show. It is a tad shocking in bits and there’s plenty of sexuality and profanity so don’t bring the kids.

The Headscarf and the Angry Bitch has won the best solo-performer award at the DC Capital Fringe festival in 2009 and was sold out at its New York International Fringe Festival run in 2010.

Details:

Cast: Zehra Fazal
Genre: Comedy, Musical
Warning: Sexual Content, Mature Language, Audience Participation
Venue 6 George Ignatieff Theatre

Performances:

60 min.
Wed, July 13 2:15pm
Thu, July 14 4:00pm
Fri, July 15 5:15pm
Sat, July 16 6:15pm

Photo credit to Zehra Fazal

– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

2 thoughts on “Headscarf and the Angry Bitch (Zehra Fazal) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. the show on Sunday night got a standing ovation as well!

    I liked your review and I’m glad you didn’t give away the ending !

  2. I had high expectations for this show, but I must say, was quite put off. I found it pretty offensive to basic Muslim practices, such as prayer, and found that subjects that would have been “sacred” or “reveared” within a Muslim atmosphere were reduced to crude sex jokes. Would not recommend this show, and have trouble seeing a benefit to it, especially in today’s context of Islamaphobia.

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