On the 12th December 2019, back when we were allowed to go out and we were at the polling station with optimism in our minds, I had the joy of also attending a brilliant comedy night called Laff-ucino. The event was at a quirky little cafe bar used for stand-up gigs called 2Northdown, just 10 minutes from Kings Cross station. I had been made aware of the event through London based social entrepreneur Usman Khalid. Describing his coffee business HAVEN coffee as ‘Coffee with a conscience’, Usman has been working hard to raise support for refugees and migrants. Usman had recently taken part in some comedy workshops organised by ‘No Direction Home’ which were mentored by comedian Tom Parry and wanted to continue the momentum by organising a night which celebrated the talent of comedians from refugee and migrant backgrounds. The night was headlined by the brilliant Nish Kumar who came freshly prepared with many timely jokes for the current, ahem, political atmosphere.
Nish Kumar at the Laff-ucino comedy night
The event was a hilarious sell-out night which brought people together over a shared passion for equality and comedy. Comedy makes space for important conversations that need to happen and presents them in a way people are generally more comfortable with. It is a way of making harsh truths more palatable and when it comes to the subject of the experiences of refugees and migrants boy oh boy do we have some harsh truths to discuss. The important use of arts, culture and comedy is something that Usman is very aware of, having worked for a number of organisations that use the arts as a bridge within communities to support wellbeing. How appropriate then, considering our current situation, that Usman has organised an online art exhibition as part of Refugee Week.
The exhibition, aptly entitled ‘Isolation’, runs during Refugee week from the 15th to the 21st June and will feature works by artists of migrant, refugee and non-migrant backgrounds. The theme of isolation may seem an obvious choice to us now, but for many, isolation is something that many had already been forced to experience due to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and migration status. I personally cannot wait to see what the artists have created and no doubt this will provide timely reflection for us all. You can find out more via the HAVEN Coffee UK Facebook page and register to receive updates via email through the Eventbrite link at bit.ly/havenart.
By Natasha Steer