By Flora Norton
Dilruk Jayasinha’s talent for comedy is astounding and his show ‘Cheat Days,’ is an absolute must-see for anyone with an appreciation for self-deprecation and wit. In the show Jayasinha achieves something rarely seen in comedy. He’s inspirational… and funny.
His premise is simple; losing weight is hard and fat people are funny, but the hour is carefully crafted and executed flawlessly with a charming confidence and energy that has the audience hooked from the start.
Throughout the show Jayasinha is bitterly self-critical and he picks apart his upbringing and his lifestyle with a ruthlessness tempered only by his beaming smile and contagious giggle. When the audience applaud him for cutting his weight down by 35 kilos, he scoffs and likens their response to congratulating an arsonist for putting out his own fire. Similar moments of deeply cynical humour are scattered throughout the show and he does not spare his former, heavier self for a second. Displaying endearing vulnerability, he recalls losing his virginity and then having his virginity quickly ‘find its way back home,’ before opening up about some ‘bed-breaking’ moments of his teenage sex-life.
His upbringing in Sri Lanka forms a prominent part of his story as he describes being raised with three different religions (and hence three sets of indulgent holidays) and laughs about how his unconventional Muslim family members were ‘boozy muzies,’ spiritual during the day and spirit-full after dark.
And yet the beneath the all the sarcasm and punchy one-liners, Jayasinha also speaks with sincerity about spending years coping with bullying and self-hatred. He talks about getting therapy, and how he’s gradually rebuilt his life and learnt self-discipline and determination. When he reveals that after years of competitive dieting with his best friend, he finally completed a half marathon the audience, by this stage deeply invested in his story, respond with a genuinely excited round of applause whooping and cheering in what is a truly uplifting moment.
All this alone would have made for a fantastic hour and yet Jayasinha’s uncanny and impressive talent for improvised humour truly enhances the show. When two girls abruptly run out of the room Jayasinha doesn’t miss a beat and his comical speculation about the cause of the girls’ disappearance demonstrates that his sense of humour runs far beyond the script. Respectful yet also mischievous he calls on individuals and teases the audience mirthfully and has everyone in stitches for sixty minutes straight.
Jayasinha’s show is outrageously funny, powerful and uplifting and, in my opinion, one of the best that the comedy festival has to offer. I wasn’t the only one… I don’t think One Direction’s song ‘What makes you beautiful,’ which played as the curtains came down, has ever been received with more enthusiasm.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.