Writer, actor, and comedian Janine Harouni is witty and fabulous! The impersonations – incredible. The jokes – from the heart. Precision, and good structure. Harouni has impeccable timing, wry facial expressions, and all the charisma necessary to become a household name. Her cabaret set at Soho Theatre was insightful, entertaining, and hilarious.
Known for her appearances in various TV shows, and BBC Radio 4’s beloved dissident cultural Neo-marxist-postmodernist-feminist propaganda series ‘The Now Show’, Harouni tackles the ills and joys of modern life – from racism and the fight for gay rights, to relearning to walk and her Dad’s fight against the gay porn industry!
The show takes several unexpected turns, with the most deadpan of punchlines and gripping stories. The cabaret felt akin to a TED talk or an autobiography, albeit very funny. Janine Harouni presents her life in a motivational and comical way. She reminds us of the comedy to be found in life’s obstacles and miseries.
Harouni’s candour about her philosophical journey from right- to left-wing highlights the contemporary lack of compassion and understanding of people with different views. There’s no perfect little box to put anybody in, regardless of who they vote for. And Janine Harouni certainly had her fair share of challenges with this – not least because her father voted for Donald Trump!
There are many interesting intersectional observations in Harouni’s set. Quite significantly, the complex aspects of identity in a female Lebanese-American thespian, and the competing ideological paradigms currently plaguing society. The gay best friend anecdotes were hysterical, relatable, and heartwarming. I thought it was perfect how the story went full circle. By the end, Harouni’s father had come to accept him for what he is – just a man, and a great friend.
It’s important to clarify boundaries when it comes to political principles and ideology. That doesn’t mean people should be stricken off, ignored, or censored for having a difference of opinion. That would cause more harm and further estrangement. We’re all just trying to get through life and be the best version of ourselves. Or most of us are anyway! Harouni’s stories are a testament to that.
Cover photo: Natasha Pszenicki