Words: Robert Parker-White
Twenty years after his sell out show ‘Finding Bin Laden’ premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe, satirist Henry Naylor is back to tell the behind the scenes journey in first getting this show to the festival.
It starts with Naylor as down on his luck comedian desperately trying to get his foot in the door when he strikes lucky in landing a job doing topical satire at BBC Radio 2, unfortunately for him this job opportunity coincides with the September 11 attacks. His producer, agent and even therapist try to persuade him that Afghanistan just isn’t funny but Naylor deems otherwise and sets out to the Middle Eastern country with his photographer pal, Sam Maynard.
What follows is a rollercoasting account of his journey through the war-torn country being threatened by warlords, narrow escapes from the Taliban and a harrowing encounter with a mysterious figure that leads to a soul-searching discovery about himself.
Naylor is engaging and whip-smart throughout. He is a captivating performer, eyeballing the audience with a steely glaze to make them feel totally involved. He is a dynamic storyteller who draws you in with his poetic prose effortlessly playing with humour even in the darkest of moments.
Occasionally the play strays into superciliousness. The show overruns the advertised running time by quite some margin and could do with a trimming but this is still a tour-de-force performance from Naylor well worth watching.
Afghanistan Is Not Funny by Henry Naylor
Gilded Balloon Teviot, Wine Bar