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Naz Osmanoglu: 1000% Awesome
Published on Tuesday, 16 August 2011

4 stars

Udderbelly's Pasture (venue website)
3-16, 18-28 Aug, 9:15pm-10:15pm
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

Naz Osmanoglu is probably best known to Edinburgh audiences as one third of hit sketch group WitTank.  They're playing this year again, but Osmanoglu is striking out in this solo effort to establish just how awesome he is.

The immediate answer is 'pretty awesome'.  Osmanoglu (it's pronounced in a similar way to the surname of Barry Manilow) has something that the best comedians require, and that's presence – the ability to fill a room and demand attention from the audience.  From the moment he bursts onstage like a rock god, fans blazing, it's hard to take your eyes off him.  He has, in that wonderfully understated euphemism, a 'watchable quality'; but he also has the interesting backstory to capitalise on that.

The half-English, half-Turkish Osmanoglu is actually a minor Turkish princeling – or he would be, had Kemal Ataturk not deposed the Ottoman Dynasty after the First World War.  Currently nineteenth in line to the vacant throne, HIH Prince Şehzade Nazım Osmanoğlu Efendi uses the dichotomy of his fairly posh English upbringing and his hot Turkish blood to investigate if he is awesome enough to live up to his forebears and heroes.

When you think of the fury that erupts in the press after Prince Harry is pictured staggering out of a night club, it's hard to imagine what the parallel would be if paps were following Osmanoglu to the Amsterdam sex club he describes.  A great deal of the narrative and the jokes are crude and laddish, sure, but it's all part of inventing a sort of hyper-masculine persona fit for a prince.

There was a strange interruption to proceedings midway when Osmanoglu paused his act to perform an odd sketch scene, that would surely have been dropped quite quickly had it been brought up in, say, a WitTank script meeting.  I wondered if it betrayed a sort of nervousness about being the sole focus for an hour long show.  If it did, then it was unfounded: he's a dynamic and arresting figure and, although the mood recovered quickly, I don't think it needed that dip.

The show builds to a satisfying conclusion nonetheless, including a du jour reflection on the nature of father and son relationships that is both heartfelt and convincing.  The ridiculous visual gag for the close is perfectly executed, and, as the newly-crowned Osmanoglu departs with his trophy bride, we are left to bask in his awesomeness.

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