In Review: Joe Nawaz’s ‘Fake I.D’

After missing the first run during the Belfast Comedy Festival (for shame!); Tyler McNally finally caught Joe Nawaz’s sell out show and now knows what the fuss is about.

After two sold out shows as part of last month’s Belfast Comedy Festival, Accidental Theatre hosted a second two show run of Joe Nawaz’s hit show ‘Fake I.D’. Through a seamless combination of slides, video, music and his own narration; Nawaz guides the audience through the trappings of growing up in Belfast as a person of colour during the 80s and 90s.


Although Nawaz’s story isn’t our usual identity tale of Nationalism versus Unionism, the journey of this particular struggle with identities, between an Irish mother, Pakistani father and a wider divided society; resonates with a modern audience, laying bare the realities facing people of colour here. Nawaz’s narration doesn’t just weave a story complete with subtle and not so subtle humour, it invites the audience into that world, to experience the oddities but also the pains.

Under the direction of Emily Foran, Nawaz’s delivery of scripted story and ad lib is seamless and lends weight to the show’s content. Nawaz’s story is bursting with comedy and tragedy, and whereas the tragedy brings out the strength of the humour; it has to be admitted that the comedy allows the audience to enter Joe’s life and empathise with his character and his wider family (in particular, his Pakistani Father or rather, Joe’s relationship with him as experienced through conflicting identities).

Nawaz’s ‘Fake I.D’ is a story of the Outsider, a story from the 80s and 90s that could have taken place yesterday (snazzy fashion snaps to one side) and perhaps that is what has proven to be this show’s biggest draw. We continue to struggle with the ills of racism and sectarianism amongst other problems, and we struggle with a world in flux, the same yet unfamiliar.

I won’t spoil the story, which is why this review is short. I’m also recovering from the fact that Nawaz has played a game of bowling with Cornershop, and hasn’t mentioned this to me in over three years. Ignore me though, ‘Fake I.D’ is great and simply unmissable, you won’t divert your gaze to look at your phone once.