An Informal "Doctor in the House"
What the audience soon learns from his mildly awkward introductory remarks is that Dr. Ahmed Z. Kazmi is a British GP, living and practicing in Australia, currently intent on doing standup comedy at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. What ensues over the next 70 minutes is a good-natured, show-and-tell that not only provides a nice smattering of GP clinic humor and a bit of cogent medical advice, but also a sample of Dr. Ahmed’s vocal ability and terpsichorean prowess. But once the novelty of the good doctor’s understated, hesitantly timed opening expositions have been absorbed, the rest of the show would be even more effective if he simply picked up the pace a bit.
That said, Dr. Kazmi offers an entertaining peek into a GP’s practice, especially the eccentricities to be encountered during routine medical examinations. One memorable segment focuses on Kazmi’s observations on how Australian men evolve over the years in terms of the relationship with their “willies” during a checkup. At age six, they will fight off any attempt at exposure. But once these men are in their 40s, they know no shame; and when they have reached their elder years, they are practically slapping it in the doctor’s face. And while discussing proper attire in the exam room, he affirms that it is not practical for a doctor to wear a tie while attending to a woman’s pap smear. Also, if a doctor must walk through the waiting room while patients are in attendance, the doctor should never make eye contact with them. Kazmi gives an impressive example of the patient death stare he has encountered.
For no apparent reason other than he wants to do it, Kazmi starts singing, pleasantly enough. He offers a ditty, which he calls the ”Stage Mom Song,” a tribute to his own mother who was reportedly hard to please. He explains that he scored a 96% when he successfully completed his studies at the Royal College of Physicians. His mother replied, ”What happened to the other four percent.” In his desire to entertain his Fringe audience, he segues from a sympathetic demonstration of how a physician might inform relatives of the demise of their family member, to a demonstration of how that same scene might play out in a telenovela and in a Bollywood movie, complete with dancing. His accents aren’t bad either.
As a performance piece, Doctor in the House is more reminiscent of cocktail party entertainment, presided over by a talented and gracious informal host, who has no concerns about pacing or comedic arc, as long as everyone is left feeling good. This is not a knock. Ultimately, it was rewarding to be in Dr. Kazmi’s company. It is also praiseworthy that he donates all revenues from comedy to medical charities, such as City of Hope. But it would really be nice to see what would happen if this doctor who lives and practices in Perth, Australia, allowed his standup comedy to be shaped by an adroit and knowledgeable director whose only mandate was to make Dr. Ahmed Z Kazmi as funny as he could be.
DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE
Plays Sunday, June 19 (7:30pm); Monday, June 20 (8:30pm); Wednesday, June 22 (8pm) and Thursday, June 23 (8:30pm)
At Sacred Fools Second Stage, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood.
Tickets and details available here.