IIn Athens, just a few newcomers are on the microphone after collaborating in a sequence of comedy workshops. One of many organizers, Vasileia Vaxevani, compares the expertise to the primary time she had intercourse. “It ends shortly. It hurts a bit. However you already know for certain that you just need to do it once more.”
Immigration is the uncharacteristically humorous matter on the coronary heart of this present I’ve produced Counterpoint Arts It’s carried out by refugees and asylum seekers as a part of Refugee Week The theme this 12 months was “Therapeutic”. In an viewers as various as this occasion, and in a rustic that has seen its societies divided on account of polarizing responses to immigration, the range of the topic is on show.
Award-winning British comic, Tom Barry, who helped ship an analogous sequence of workshops and gigs for House with out course Since 2018, he has led facilitators in Athens and Lesbos in instructing the nerve-wracking artwork of stand-up comedy. Talking to immigrants and non-immigrants alike, he instructed them by way of Zoom “You do not should be enjoyable, you simply should be enjoyable.”
On a heat Lesbos afternoon, we watch Salem Nabi, then an Afghan refugee and now a resident of Canada, give a presentation on the Mosaic Middle on the conclusion of one other sequence of workshops, co-produced by Miguel Silvili of Nepantla Border Cultures. The Prophet says: “Refugees are troublemakers.” Take, for instance, the NGO Refugee 4 . refugees. It makes you suppose… why did you write like that? Effectively, they are saying when you let one refugee in, swiftly, they will be 4 refugees.”
Lesbos was as soon as dwelling to the Moria refugee camp, one of many largest in Europe, which burned in 2020. The island has seen a rise in its inhabitants by 20,000 refugees, most of whom have now left for neighboring international locations. However Lesbos remains to be a middle for these working within the immigration sectors, and as such a middle for the humanities geared towards immigrants. The Mosaik live performance featured seven comedians – a mixture of refugees, migrants, volunteers and NGO staff.
Jalal Juanda, facilitator of Lesbos, echoes Barry by saying, “Individuals suppose that if you wish to make others chuckle, you’ll want to know lots of jokes already. However whenever you do a pause, you possibly can put your individual tales in it.” That is significantly helpful for refugees, he says, as he ponders his “nightmare” border crossings. A former radio host and media character in Afghanistan, Gwenda fled the nation in 2016 along with his household after a political feud. He first arrived in Moria and lived and labored on Lesbos for a number of years earlier than transferring to Berlin. “I do not need to neglect what occurred to me,” he says. “It is rather necessary that you just at all times discuss what occurred to you, since you could possibly forestall it from taking place to others.”
After we discuss to a younger Central African in Kara Tepe camp, Moria’s various, Juanda explains that as refugees it will be significant for each of them to achieve self-confidence. That is one other engaging facet of those workshops, moreover interacting with the area people in Mytilene, working towards their English and spending time ready for bureaucratic procedures like receiving notarization papers (this man has been ready almost two years for it). comedy It is “simple to digest,” Joinda instructed me, making it some of the highly effective mouthpieces. “Should you solely say horrible issues to individuals, they are going to be exhausting to digest as a result of we’re all uninterested in the bullshit taking place all around the world. Comedy is a method that you would be able to ship highly effective messages to individuals with out becoming bored.”
Comedy additionally forges widespread floor between communities that, though they’ve completely different experiences, are capable of bond over humor in on a regular basis notes. At Athena’s occasion, two younger Afghani immigrants – Arash and Majid – give materials in regards to the incapability to flirt and the trial of their pesky cousins respectively. Arash who has arrived Greece In 2016, excited to learn to ship a textual content message. “Majid frankly instructed us that that is the primary time somebody has requested to inform a narrative about their life [in Afghanistan]And about one thing aside from asylum too. The dialog is at all times, ‘Oh, that poor immigrant or refugee, poor Afghan, poor Syrian.’ However these novice comedians are “actual individuals, they’ve fascinating tales, they’ve lived a full, humorous life.”
Because the battle in Ukraine and the British authorities’s asylum plan in Rwanda maintain immigration within the headlines, comedy presents a brand new option to body the discourse. Moderately than treating them as a group of “dystopian tales” and themes of inhuman politics, the artwork of standing up permits immigrants to be solely human.