Fear of a Brown Planet Returns

Fear of a Brown Planet ReturnsFear of a Brown Planet Returns is the show of Nazeem Hussain and Aemer Rahman, and by their own definition, they are both Brown people. They do however say that Brown people might be Chinese, Sri Lankan or Japanese, or anyone whose skin colour is somewhere in between the colour of white and black.

To begin, Hussain asks one of the audience members how it feels to be sitting up the front of the room, to be in the good seats, to be positioned like a White person. It is an opening that instantly divides the audience, and one that sets the tone for duration of the show.

In Fear of a Brown Planet Returns, Hussain and Rahman are there to make a point, and they do so not through implication, but through direct verbal statements. Their contention, and the basis of their show is this: White people are racist toward Brown people, and Australian White people (a definition of ‘Australian’ is not supplied) are far more racist than the White people of any other country.

Given the current media coverage of the attacks in Melbourne on International students, particularly Indians, race relations in this city is perhaps more topical than it has been for quite some time. This makes it just that little bit more difficult to put a humorous spin on the discussion of such events, and whilst the reception of this show will unavoidably be determined by whether one might be grouped as being Brown, or White, or a White Australian, one would suggest that for those in the audience, regardless of skin colour, the result is a show that is rather unfunny. Most disappointing of all is that it will do very little to improve the racial attitudes of those very people Hussain and Rahman say need to do so the most.

For a show that is all about demonstrating that racism exists within Australia, Hussain and Rahman have been supplied with substantial material. Just a few of the valid points raised are the lack of Brown people featured in Australian television (as well as the recent black face-painting debacle on one of Australia’s oldest and most well loved family shows, Hey Hey It’s Saturday), immigration laws, war, the pay rate for International taxi drivers in Australia, as well as the often uneducated public statements by White Australian politicians and commentators regarding the reason behind, and solution for, race related attacks.

A great deal of this show however is based not just on demonstrating how White Australians are racist towards Brown people, but also on generalisations and racist comments directed specifically at White Australians. Hussain’s material particularly, is bound to ruffle a few feathers amongst those that might fall under their category of White Australians, but this is something that he says is justified – White people, he says, have always given Brown people a hard time, it is simply their turn.

With the right treatment, this subject matter, whilst confronting, does have the potential to be both amusing and poignant. One need only consider Anthony Salame’s show One Night Stand from last year’s Comedy Festival. Though it wasn’t his primary objective, Salame, a Lebanese Australian, or someone who Hussain and Raman might consider a Brown person, highlighted the cultural differences between the Lebanese and those of White Australians, all the while celebrating his own culture. He also did what all good comedians do; he included material that was common to everyone, irrespective of colour, religion, sex or place of birth, and he made fun of himself as well as others. In featuring instances and moments that were common to all humans, he found a way to not just entertain, but educate and unite his audience. It is a pity that Hussain and Rahman, two men who are clearly skilled performers and impersonators, did not do more of the same.

Fox in the Snow presents
Fear of a Brown Planet Returns
Aamer Rahman and Nazeem Hussain

Venue: Melbourne Town Hall, Council Chambers | Cnr Swanston & Collins Sts, Melbourne
Melbourne Town Hall, Lower Town Hall | Cnr Swanston & Collins Sts, Melbourne
Dates: 25 March - 18 April, 2010
Times: Tue - Sat 7.15pm, Sun 6.15pm & Mon 7pm (no show 29 & 30 Mar)
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: Full $24, Concession $20, Tightarse Tuesday $20, All Tix Mon $20
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 660 013 | at the door

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