Saleem: How Dare You
2 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Veteran comic Saleem’s How Dare You has many unexpected turns and red herrings but ultimately is too discordant. He often sounds like he is carrying a momentum that wasn’t earned from the listener.
While the entire piece may lack a cohesiveness or seamless movement, the set is not without its bright spots. His political views may be compelling philosophically but the jokes that convey them are often too lofty and expectant of the audience to reach and agree. There are some poignant remarks of the grand sweeping nature regarding race and politics, but the set is successful when it moves humbly to creative, idiosyncratic poking-fun, like criticizing Obama’s policy regarding his mother-in-law’s White House access.
Saleem’s take on Obama in a less serious space is quite funny. “Everything time he does something black he immediately messes it up.” Another example of success is his bit regarding the financial crises, when he gets down to the jokes and describes jobs that no one would have if it wasn’t a tough time.” Kids come into the house and ask Daddy [to] play, ‘Sorry kids, I was a pickle all day I just can’t do it.’”
Much of the trouble Saleem runs into is when he throws out some absurd statements designed as misdirection, ultimately with the hope of loosening up the audience and creating a comfortable, progressive space. Unfortunately these moments don’t quite carry their weight in the laugh department, and may even endanger the more light-hearted humor that follows.
Saleem has the potential to construct a set of strong ideological presence that still makes people laugh, but he would need to focus on the simple necessity of propelling every idea with enough laughter and space to resonate. The intelligent, frankly stated moments in this set certainly deserve accolade, but their proximity to statements intended to comically oppose them creates confusion rather than an ironic, meaningful hypocrisy as intended.