Volume 20, Number 36 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 25 - September 1, 2010
THE ANGRY BITCH Written & Performed by Zehra Fazal
60 minutes (comedy)
For info about the show, visit www.zehrafazel.com
The “Muslim Weird Al” Offers More Than Parodies
BY TRAV S.D.
The rather bad wordplay in this show’s title (a twist on “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) had me bracing for the worst, but I was pleasantly undisappointed. Yes, writer/ performer Zehra Fazal does live up to her own self-description as “the Muslim Weird Al”, but she has more to offer than dopey song parodies. The Washington D.C.-based Fazal (“Headscarf” was a hit at last year’s Capitol Fringe) is a very funny comedian, an excellent singer, a capable actress, and a biting cultural critic.
The premise of this solo piece is that the character, one Zed Headscarf, has been hired by a Muslim community center to teach Americans about Islam. Unfortunately for her, and fortunately for us, she has a problematic relationship with her traditionalist South Asian parents, and her increasingly non-traditional lovers. In the end, naturally she is canned but not before the Lady Gaga parody in a costume made of U.S. and Pakistani flags.
As is sometimes the case with one-person shows, it can be difficult to tell how much of the character is fictitious and how much is drawn from the artist’s life. But any way you slice it, she is brave, I think. There is plenty here to enrage the reactionary in both the Islamic and American cultures, as she trashes Muslim prohibitions against a variety of common western pleasures on the one hand, and U.S. airport screening processes on the other. The common denominator is a healthy, liberal ability to laugh at the kind of silliness that knows no borders. Fools, take warning: this woman does not suffer you gladly.