Mustafa Algiyadi is a comedian who is a cornerstone of the English-speaking comedy scene in Germany, founding the Medium Rare Comedy Club in Munich in 2019. The Libyan Arab stand-up brings his debut solo show, ‘Almost Legal Alien’ to the Fringe in 2024. We spoke to him about the show, performing comedy in different languages, and his ambition to tour the UK. 

Can you tell us about ‘Almost Legal Alien?’

‘Almost Legal Alien’ is the culmination of my stand-up work in the last five years. I speak about how it was for me to grow up in Libya and my motivation to move to Europe, the cultural differences that I observe personally, and those which I feel are imposed on me. Themes of belonging, identity, and a quest for a better passport. It is jam-packed with punchy jokes, storytelling, we will do a group meditation, and the audience helping me solve major belonging issues. Basically it is as funny as a Libyan gets. What more can one ask for!?

For anyone who might be new to you, could you describe your approach to comedy?

I like to keep it conversational and enjoy crowd work and interaction with the audience. In terms of styles, then I would say quite the mix to be honest: anecdotal, observational, dark, and a bit of satire, much like my identity crises. I refuse to be told that I do blue comedy, but sometimes that doesn’t change much.

 You’re a big part of the comedy scene in Germany, and perform in German, Italian, and Arabic as well as English. Does your material and style differ between languages?

The material differs only a little bit, but the style does differ a lot. Funny enough, even though English is not my native language, performing in English is my favorite and it comes the most natural to me, as I am used to consuming comedy in English. Performing in German allows me to think about word economy, as I usually translate my bits and improvising in German is not that simple for me.

I perform in character in Italian, which is someone who doesn’t actually speak Italian and reads from notes. I love performing in Italian as there is a lot of body language and gesticulation involved that are culturally shared with Libya (probably the Mediterranean connection), and makes the physical part of the performance come almost instinctively.

Arabic is the most tricky language to perform in (shame on me, I know!). I think the fact that there are many different dialects in the Arab world and the Libyan dialect is not common makes it quite complicated, as I always need to adjust to a nondescript dialect.

 ‘Almost Legal Alien’ is your debut hour. What are your hopes and expectations for the month?

The main goal is crystal clear: to get enough reviews that allows me to put on a tour of the UK. I find the idea of touring the UK very exciting and it is a dream of mine. Besides that, I would like to get a large exposure and the possibility to perform to diverse crowds, to get feedback about my comedy and obviously improve.

Beside ‘Almost Legal Alien’ can we expect to see you performing elsewhere during August?

I hope so! Nothing is confirmed yet, but I would love to get to do spots on different shows as well.

 Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to (or dreading!) about the Fringe?

I am looking forward to watching as many acts as possible. I love the creative “bubble” that one can get into during the Fringe, and use that to get inspired and generate new ideas for the future.

Are there any other acts at the Fringe that you would recommend audiences see?

Lara Ricote

Mike Rice

Janine Harouni

Chloe Petts

Natalie Palamides

Patti Harrison

To name a few, the list goes on!

Almost Legal Alien‘ is at Just the Tonic Nucleus – Just the Sub-Atomic Room from Thu 1 Aug to Sun 25 Aug 2024 (Except Mon 12)