Cigdem Oktem is a smooth and likeable storyteller. It is a shame that her material is rarely up to her performance skills.
Oktem’s show is mostly a mash-up of two different topics: how I kept my sanity during a period of unemployment (mostly by watching way too much cable television) and why I love my quirky Turkish-American family. Both topics are usually amusing in the moment, although rarely is the material truly inspired – there may be an original, fresh approach to riffing on reality TV, but Oktem has not found it.
She is most successful when relating her own life experiences. After a run of jokes about that 1989 classic “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” she describes herself in the 80’s and wonders when she stopped being cool. A story about the influence of the media on how she shows affection for with her Pomeranian Sasha was, I found, one of the more memorable segments of the show.
As for her family members, I will concede that they sound more entertaining than most. While Oktem may never get tired of the amusing fights her parents have, that may not hold true for the audience. On the other hand, I would like to meet her aunt and travelling friends who can roll into European towns and create more havoc than the average touring rock band.
I am sure that people gravitate to Oktem at the cocktail parties she references in her act. She can be witty and charming while telling a story. The problem is that there’s not much of a through theme or feeling of cohesiveness to her presentation. While she does interrupt her show periodically for a phone call with her mother, those breaks do not contribute much to any structure. As a result, the charm fades a little as the show progresses.
Oktem, a forty year old chunky (her description, not mine) woman, aspires to be an action hero, or a reality show star, or a talk show host. She seems to be aiming, instead, for the opening act at a comedy club. We have all seen the unknown who has some raw talent and tells some amusing personal stories. You’ll enjoy listening to her while having drinks at Bus Boys & Poets, but she needs some work to be a headliner.
How to Profit From Your Family
Written and Performed by Cigdem Oktem
Reviewed by Steven McKnight
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?