Khorsandi performing at Latitude in 2009.
|Birth name||Shaparak Khorsandi|
8 June 1973 |
|Genres||Black comedy, observational comedy, deadpan|
|Subject(s)||Modern life, Iranian-UK cultural divide, and the generation gap|
|Spouse||Christian Reilly (2005-2011, divorced)|
|Parent(s)||Hadi Khorsandi (father)|
Shaparak "Shappi" Khorsandi (Persian: ????? ????????, born 8 June 1973) is a British comedian and author of Iranian origin. The daughter of the Iranian satirist and poet Hadi Khorsandi, she left Iran as a child following the Islamic Revolution. In January 2016, she became president of the British Humanist Association (now known as Humanists UK). Her second book and first novel, Nina is Not OK, was released in 2016.
The daughter of Hadi Khorsandi, she was born in Iran and says her earliest memory is 'riding on a bicycle in Tehran, on my uncle's lap at dawn, to get chocolate milk'. She and her family were forced to flee from Iran to London after the Islamic Revolution following the publication of a satirical poem her father composed. The poem was seen as critical of the revolutionary regime. Khorsandi was raised without any religion, and identifies as an atheist and a humanist. She later became a Patron of the British Humanist Association, which appointed her as its President from January 2016, succeeding Jim Al-Khalili.
Khorsandi graduated from King Alfred's College, now the University of Winchester, in 1995, with a degree in Drama, Theatre and Television, then moved on to pursue a career in comedy. In 2010, the university awarded her an honorary doctorate.
Khorsandi was married to fellow comedian Christian Reilly, with whom she has a son, Cassius. They divorced in 2011. Khorsandi lives with her son in west London near Richmond Park. Her father and brother are also stand-up comedians. In November 2012, she announced on Twitter that she was expecting her second child, due in the summer of 2013. On 7 June 2013, Khorsandi gave birth to a baby girl, Genevieve. In a 2014 interview she said "I'm doing it all on my own, I have no contact with the father. But that's fine, I'm not angry or bitter." She identifies as bisexual.
Khorsandi performs stand-up comedy, having been a noted performer at Joe Wilson's Comedy Madhouse throughout 1997. She has appeared on many BBC Radio 4 programmes, including Quote... Unquote, Loose Ends, You and Yours, Midweek, Just A Minute, The Now Show and The News Quiz, as well as BBC Television's Have I Got News For You and QI. In July 2009, she hosted her own four-part series, Shappi Talk on BBC Radio 4, examining what it is like growing up in multi-cultural families. She also writes an occasional column for online magazine Iranian.com.
In 2007, Khorsandi made her first trip to Australia and the Melbourne Comedy Festival with her show Asylum Speaker. She also appeared live on the Australia comedy talk show Rove. Later, she was nominated for best breakthrough act at the 2007 Chortle Awards. In December 2008, she appeared on the BBC stand-up television show Live at the Apollo alongside Russell Kane and Al Murray. She also made an appearance on Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow on 20 June 2009, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on 26 June 2009 and 8 Out of 10 Cats on 10 July 2009.
Khorsandi's memoir, A Beginner's Guide to Acting English, was published by Ebury Press on 2 July 2009. She performed her show, The Distracted Activist, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 6 to 31 August 2009.
Khorsandi was a panellist on Question Time in 2006, and returned on 14 January 2010. During that show, she mentioned that she supports Labour. She performed on the second episode of Let's Dance for Sport Relief 2010.
In 2010, Khorsandi took part in Channel 4's Comedy Gala, a benefit show held in aid of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, filmed live at the O2 Arena in London on 30 March. She appeared as a guest in Genius hosted by Dave Gorman on 31 October 2010. In March 2012, Khorsandi appeared on Channel 4's The Celebrity Bank Job and won £59,000 for her chosen charities.
In 2016, Khorsandi appeared with her son on Big Star's Little Star.
The book describes the way in which Khorsandi experienced England as a young girl. The narrative begins with her attending nursery school, The Kings' International Nursery School, with her brother, Peyvand. Throughout the book, she explains the ways in which the Persian language differs from English: "They called me 'poppet'. Iranians said 'jaan' or 'azizam'." She also expresses pride in how her father took English classes and was praised for his affinity with the written word, though she also felt he was able to be more humorous in Persian.
Other themes include her experiences with English food and customs, the war between Iran and Iraq, and the hostilities that she and her family encounter--she notes, for example, having been referred to as a terrorist.