Shaparak Khorsandi recalls her Shappi days of Nineties’ ladette culture in It Was The 90s! at Selby Town Hall on January 22

” It’s a show that massively talks about the Nineties’ ‘ladette’ culture,” says Shaparak Khorsandi of It Was The 90s!

SHAPARAK Khorsandi, the Iranian-born British stand-up comedian and author formerly known as Shappi, tackles  1990s’ culture in her new show at Selby Town Hall on January 22.

Back then, she flew around London with hope in her heart, a tenner in her pocket and spare knickers in her handbag. “But how does the decade of binge drinking and walks of shame look now without snakebite and black-tinted specs?” asks Shaparak, 48.

“It Was The 90s! is a show about how we ’90s kids are looking to young people to learn how to take care of ourselves, because if you survived the car crash of being a ’90s kid, then surely Things Can Only Get Better.”

The new show emerged from Shaparak realising that her son’s generation regards the 1990s the way her generation regards the 1960s. “It’s a show that massively talks about the Nineties’ ‘ladette’ culture, which was a culture of women supposedly taking their power back by drinking the boys under the table and all that mayhem of emulating the worst of laddish behaviour,” she says.

“I talk about how and why I threw myself into that wholeheartedly in the ’90s, which is also when I started stand-up comedy. That was part of my need for freedom and the comedy circuit seemed like the most punk place to be. It’s very different to the way it is now.”

Hedonism and escapism form Shaparak’s abiding memories of the Nineties. “In the show I talk about all the harm I need to undo. You didn’t just go out for a drink hoping you’d meet someone you fancied, you drank and drank until you fancied someone,” she says.

“It’s also about how, back then, I went to university with people who’d say ‘I’ve only got £200 to last me until Monday’ when I was a cleaner on Saturdays and Sundays to pay for my beer. “

You really saw the class difference, she recalls. “I had one friend who said of her parents, ‘They want me to have a work ethic, so they’ve said to me, if I get a job, they’ll match my hourly rate pound for pound’.

“Before I went to university in the ’90s, I’d never come across private-school kids before. That’s why Jarvis Cocker became my absolute hero with Common People, because that song for me expressed how I was feeling in this brand-new adult world I was navigating. Then I come to 2022 and how I’ve changed from the 23-year-old me.”

Contemplating how she has altered since then, Shaparak notes: “I’m not quite the Socialist she was. I’m looking back at how my politics have changed and how my outlook has also changed. And you have to shelve the ‘ladette’ behaviour if you want to live for longer.

Shaparak Khorsandi’s tour poster for It Was The 90s!

“I look at Emma Watson now. She’s the sort of leading light of young feminism and when I look at her, I go, ‘Oh my God, you look so clean’. She looks like she goes to bed at a sensible time, whereas in the ’90s I don’t remember ever deliberately going to bed.

“It Was The 90s! offers me the chance to look at how young people look after themselves now compared to then.”

Looking for examples of the difference between then and now, Shaparak says: “Self-care in the ’90s was about having a Berocca. If I’d said to my friends in the ’90s, after a one-night stand where the bloke thought my name was Jackie, that I was going to take some time out, do some breathing exercises and meditation, become vegetarian and work on my boundaries, they would have thought I’d joined a cult. Self-care was what people in cults did.”

Alongside Pulp’s Common People, what would made Shaparak’s ultimate 1990s’ playlist? “Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know, because it was the first time I’d really heard an angry female voice in a pop song. Also, Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping, The Prodigy and all of the songs that talked about chaos and mayhem. Then Eminem. Weirdly, I was really connected to Eminem.”

Shaparak is heading out on her first tour since 2017, her first dates too since being diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in lockdown. “I got proper help with it,” she says.

“What I’m finding is that it’s changed the way I do comedy. People ask, ‘Are you worried it’s going to affect how you are on stage?’ and I’m like, ‘No, it’s made me better. It’s made me a better writer and a better performer, having pills that help me to focus’.

“There was always a lot of anxiety around tours and there was always a lot of ‘I’ll just do it in the moment and hopefully it’ll work’. This is the first time I’ll be doing a show whilst looking after my ADHD and creatively it’s been a game-changer.”

A game-changer in all sorts of ways, she expands: “I’d say this is the first time doing a tour where I’m absolutely sure that I’m going to have a lot of fun and no anxiety. It’s a real privilege to have a clear head.

“I feel my brain works for comedy much better than before. I feel like I’m starting my career from scratch whilst also having 20 years’ experience behind me, if that makes sense.”

Shaparak kept busy in lockdown writing her book Emma when she “should have been educating my children, so their careers and dreams are going to have to happen a year later than planned”.

Shappi Khorsandi, as was, promoting her 2019-2020 tour of Skittish Warrior…Confessions Of A Club Comic, which visited Pocklington Arts Centre in February 2020

“I’m a single mum with two kids, so there wasn’t a moment of boredom in lockdown, and I’ve got two dogs, so there was a lot of mopping of floors. I didn’t have the sort of lockdown where people were looking for boxsets to binge on. I wish I’d had time to watch telly but I was writing and putting this show together.”

Lockdown also made Shaparak very nostalgic about her younger days. “It made me revisit my youth, which was something I hadn’t done before, and the reason it made me do that was because of the loss of freedom,” she says.

“It took me right back to the age where I felt the most free, which was in the ’90s, where every night was spent rushing out with nothing but a tenner in my pocket, spare knickers in my handbag and hope in my heart.

“It made me think about those years a lot and what a blur they were, yet actually stepping back into that era during lockdown, it was interesting just how much I inhabited twentysomething me again.”

By comparison with those Shappi Nineties, her idea of a great night out now comprises a “nice, chilled festival somewhere, where someone hands me something nice to eat and we watch a band that we love”. “I still like a party but not to the detriment of my physical and mental health,” she says.

Should you be wondering why she now goes by her full name of Shaparak – although her Twitter account is still @ShappiKhorsandi – here is the explanation. “The first thing I did in the ’90s was start A-level college and I went, ‘Right, no-one’s allowed to call me Shaparak anymore, I’m Shappi’,” she says.

“If you had a foreign name, you were expected to make it as easy as possible for everyone by either shortening or changing it. That doesn’t exist for young people anymore. I changed it back in spring this year. I was very invested in the football and Raheem Sterling comes from Brent, near where I grew up, and Bukayo Saka went to school in Greenford.

“I went to a school down the road in Hanwell and we used to play sports against his school. These are the sort of boys I’d have gone to school with, and I was impressed that they spoke so proudly of the backgrounds they came from, how they were from poor and immigrant families and how they had elevated themselves without changing their names. It wasn’t Ray Sterling and Bob Saka. I thought, ‘Wow, back then life would have been so different for them’.”

This led her to ask herself, “Why am I Shappi? I’m almost 50 years old, for God’s sake. Why have I got the name of a puppy?”.

“I watched Dirty Dancing again, and you know where she says at the beginning ‘That was the summer of 1963, when everybody called me ‘Baby’ and it didn’t occur to me to mind’? I just thought that it really should occur to me to mind that on all the posters and TV shows and books and everything I’m billed as Shappi, but that’s not my name,” she says.

“The only reason I’d got rid of it was because I grew up in a time when you were made to feel a bit ashamed of being foreign and making life difficult for everyone because you had a three-syllable name that was unfamiliar. I’ve changed it back because I don’t think we live in that world anymore.”

Shaparak Khorsandi: It Was The 90s!, Selby Town Hall, January 22, 8pm. SOLD OUT. Also: Square Chapel, Halifax, February 4, 8pm; The Civic, Barnsley, May 20, 7.30pm. Box office: Halifax, 0343 208 6016 or; Barnsley, 01226 327000 or

Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble lined up for last Your Place Comedy livestream on March 28

Stay Home entertainers: Your Place Comedy double bill Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble

THE final Your Place Comedy virtual double bill for now is confirmed for March 28,  starring Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble live from their living rooms.

“It might be the last one ever, it might not…but there are certainly no more planned at the moment,” says online event founder and organiser Chris Jones, manager of Selby Town Hall arts centre.

“It feels poignant doing the press for next weekend’s Your Place Comedy as Monday marked the first anniversary of the last live show in Selby Town Hall: Wah! frontman Pete Wylie on March 14 2020.

“Who would have thought that a project we started to bridge what everyone assumed would be a small gap in activity would still be the only game in town a whole year on? What a strange place the world has become!”

The collaborative comedy club Your Place Comedy was launched on April 19 last spring with a remote bill of Mark Watson and Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont, compered by Tim FitzHigham, who has since hosted each livestreamed show.

Gathered behind the driving force of Chris Jones, ten small, independent venues across the north came together to “provide their audiences with some much-needed laughter during these difficult times”. 

Compere Tim FitzHigham and a pyjama-clad Mark Watson on screen at the first Your Place Comedy livestream last April

“In a nutshell, I was frustrated that the traditional relationship between venue, artist and audience – the venue providing the artist with income and the audience with entertainment – has been eroded for the foreseeable future by Covid-19 and I wanted to find a way to re-create that,” said Chris at the time.

“So, I’ve got ten venues from around Yorkshire and the Humber to chip in a small amount of money to put on a live stream comedy gig this Sunday (April 19).

“Their contributions to Your Place Comedy go towards paying the artists a guaranteed fee at a time when all live income has been taken away, and, in exchange, venues get a show to sell to their own audiences as one of their own, helping maintain those vital relationships with audiences they have nurtured over the years.”

Chris speculated: “If the first one is a success and this looks like a sustainable model, I would hope to do several more through the lockdown period and possibly beyond.”

The first show drew more than 3,500 viewers, Watson very much at home in his pyjamas and Beaumont telling a rather bizarre bedtime story from the homemade pub that her husband, comedian Jon Richardson, has built in their house.

Lucy Beaumont chose her home-built pub as the location for her Your Place Comedy set

“3,500 viewers! That’s considerably more than their combined capacities,” said Chris afterwards. “The show went even better than we had imagined, to say the whole project was put together from scratch in the space of two weeks by three people with no live streaming experience!”

The Your Place Comedy template has since sustained three series of lockdown livestreams from living rooms, kitchens and attics, free to watch on Facebook and YouTube via, but with an option to donate.

The debut fundraiser elicited £3,500 in donations for the participating venues, and all monies raised since then have been distributed evenly among the supporting venues as they navigate their way through challenging financial times.

The first two series in the venue-focused initiative to bring fun to fundraising brought together Selby Town Hall; The Ropewalk, Barton upon Humber; Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds; East Riding Theatre, Beverley; Junction, Goole; Helmsley Arts Centre; Shire Hall, Howden; Otley Courthouse; Pocklington Arts Centre and Rotherham Theatres.

For the latest series, Howden’s Shire Hall has dropped out because all staff are furloughed – “they’re still very supportive but didn’t want to feel like they were riding on the coattails of everyone else’s work,” says Chris – and newly on board are The Civic, Barnsley, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, and Rural Arts, at The Courthouse, Thirsk.

Justin Moorhouse and Shappi Khorsandi: At the double on September 27 last year

In 2020, the online platform presented Watson and Beaumont (April 19), Simon Brodkin and Maisie Adam (May 10), Jo Caulfield and Simon Evans (June 7), Paul Sinha and Angela Barnes (August 30), Shappi Khorsandi and Justin Moorhouse (September 27) and Robin Ince and Laura Lexx (October 25).

The Stay Home comedy double bills have resumed in 2021 with Josie Long and Ahir Shah on January 24, followed by Hal Cruttenden and Bridlington-born Rosie Jones on February 28.

Now come TV regulars and Taskmaster champions Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble. “I’m pretty excited about this line-up: both stellar performers and both still on the rise,” says Chris. “Hopefully with those names we can get good engagement and, as the young people on social media say, ‘do some numbers’. If this is to be the last show, it’s a great one to go out on.”

Introducing next weekend’s acts, Chris says: “Lou Sanders is one of Britain’s fastest-rising and most original comedy performers. Having won the Comedians’ Choice Award for Best Show at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe – voted for entirely by fellow comics – she has gone on to star in Aisling Bea’s sitcom This Way Up, appear as a guest on QI, Would I Lie To You, The Unbelievable Truth, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Live At The Apollo, and perform on The Late Late Show With James Corden in the USA.

“Best known as a regular panellist on Mock The Week, Ed Gamble’s television credits include the Royal Variety Show, Live At The Apollo, QI and 8 Out Of 10 Cats, while he’s also the co-creator of hugely successful food and comedy podcast Off Menu, alongside James Acaster.

Lou Sanders: “One of Britain’s fastest-rising and most original comedy performers,” says Your Place Comedy organiser Chris Jones, Selby Town Council’s arts officer

“Both Lou and Ed have been crowned winners of Taskmaster and the two will be competing against one another in a forthcoming Champion of Champions series.”

As ever, the compere will be Tim FitzHigham, writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler, presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge and Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominee.

As ever too, the livestream will be free to watch on YouTube and Twitch, with an option for viewers to donate if they have enjoyed the broadcast, to support both performers and venues.

“All face continued uncertainty as lockdown regulations once again prevent theatres from opening,” says Chris. “The venues involved in Your Place Comedy have now been either closed, or severely restricted in what they can deliver, for over a year.

“I don’t think, back in March 2020, any of us in our wildest dreams would have foreseen that 12 months on, the need to connect with audiences in novel, innovative ways would still be so vital, and that engaging with arts and culture online would have become the norm.

Chairman of the bored? Ed Gamble will look to liven everyone up from his living room on March 28

“It’s been so heartening to see the entire live entertainment industry pulling together though, and a real thrill to be able to collaborate remotely with different venues in a project which may otherwise never have come to pass.”

Roll on next weekend. “Sunday, March 28 will be our final scheduled show, although I hope not the last one ever, and I’m delighted that two acts with such impressive live and broadcast CVs have signed up to take part,” says Chris.

“It’s not often that you get the chance to see performers of their calibre deliver a live set without having to pay a penny, so do make the most of it and join us for another night of stellar laughs.”

For full details on Your Place Comedy, and to find out how to watch the March 28 show, visit

Fitz the bill: Tim FitzHigham has hosted every Your Place Comedy livestream since last April

More Things To Do in and around York and at home despite Cassandra Boris’s “six months” of masked-up misery. List No.15, courtesy of The Press

Fields And Lanes creative couple Mick and Jessa Liversidge head to the Easingwold Community Library willow tree for an open-air hour of poetry and song on Sunday

BORIS Johnson put on his serious face and hands act on Tuesday night to address the nation on the ins and outs of his Government’s latest Covid-clampdown measures: a stitch in time saves nine, Rules of Six, 10pm curfews and any number of other numbers that invariably add up to confusion.

However, Covid-secure, socially distanced theatre shows, exhibitions, cinema, comedy and concerts can continue, as well as home entertainment, of course.

Here, Charles Hutchinson tracks and traces signs of artistic life…with immediate results  

The Easingwold Community Library willow tree: Sunday’s setting for Fields And Lanes poetry and songs

Joint project of the week: Fields And Lanes Under A Willow Tree, Timeless Songs and Poems by Jessa and Mick Liversidge, outside Easingwold Community Library, Sunday, 2pm

INSPIRED by the “wonderful reaction” to the online streaming of their outdoor poetry and song performances in lockdown, creative Easingwold couple Jessa and Mick Liversidge present an hour of uplifting words and music in the open air this weekend.

The show will be Covid-safe and socially distanced; tickets are free, with a pay-as- you-feel collection afterwards, but must be acquired in advance on 07526 107448 or by emailing

Giles Shenton…will go to any lengths to promote his one-man show Three Men In A Boat

Three is a magic number: Three Men In A Boat, Kick In The Head Productions, Milton Rooms, Malton, Sunday, 2.30pm

GILES Shenton takes the helm for 95 minutes in Kick In The Head’s one-man/Three Men show, a “rip-roaring barrel of fun” wherein he plays writer Jerome K Jerome and everyone besides in a delightfully ridiculous tale of men behaving badly while messing about on boats.

Shenton invites you to “join Jerome as he recounts the hilarious story of his boating holiday along the magnificent River Thames with his two companions, George and Harris, and Montmorency the dog”.

Justin Moorhouse will stay in his house to perform his Your Place Comedy set from the living room on Sunday. Shappi Khorsandi will surely not be needing armour to do likewise from her place

Living room laughs: Your Place Comedy: Justin Moorhouse and Shappi Khorsandi, Sunday, online at 8pm

IN the fifth of six Your Place Comedy shows live-streamed from their living rooms into yours since lockdown, Justin Moorhouse and Shappi Khorsandi form the digital double bill introduced remotely by compere Tim FitzHigham.

The virtual comedy project has been organised by Selby Town Hall manager Chris Jones in liaison with nine other independent North and East Yorkshire arts centres and theatres, with donations welcome after each free screening to be divided between the still-closed venues. You can watch on YouTube and Twitch with more details at

Top Of The Hill, acrylic on canvas, by Debbie Lush

Exhibition launch of the week: Debbie Lush, Featured Artist, Blue Tree Gallery, Bootham, York, and online at, Saturday to November 7

TEN new works by Devon landscape artist Debbie Lush go on show at Blue Tree Gallery from this weekend.

The former freelance illustrator, who ran a Somerset country inn for 13 years, draws inspiration for her vividly coloured coastal and rural landscapes from her walks with her dog along weather-beaten coastal paths, across muddy footpaths, through gateways and over fields and farmland.

“I love the act of brushing blobs of paints of varying thickness in bright colours on a surface, one over another, to assemble landscapes,” she says.

Uninvited Guests invite guests to Love Letters Straight From Your Heart at the SJT and on Zoom. Picture: Jonathan Bewley

Antidote to isolation: Uninvited Guests’ Love Letters Straight From Your Heart, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, and on Zoom on October 1, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

THEATRE company Uninvited Guests will construct a “completely digital, wholly personal and wonderfully live experience” at the SJT and on Zoom in “very different” afternoon and evening shows.

Performed by Jessica Hoffman and Richard Dufty, Love Letters Straight From Your Heart invites the audience’s words, song dedications and stories – sent in earlier – to the stage where they are given a new shape, look you straight in the eye and offer to dance with everyone in the room.

Only 45 tickets will be sold for each show to maintain intimacy, but any number of audience members can sit at screens to watch what unfolds in 60 to 75 minutes.

Giant story: Riding Lights Theatre Company go online for Christmas

Latest Christmas show to be confirmed: Riding Lights Theatre Company in The Selfish Giant, storytelling theatre on film online, for primary schools

YORK company Riding Lights say, “We can’t come to you, but we can still bring exciting entertainment into every classroom with our online version of The Selfish Giant.

“The Giant is angry. He’s been away for a long time and returns to find children playing in his beautiful garden!

Every day after school, they come and run about, laughing and playing games under the blossom on his peach trees, listening to the delightful songs of the birds. So, he puts up a big wall and an even bigger Keep Out notice to put a stop to all that. Then winter seizes the garden in its icy fingers.”

Riding Lights ask primary school to book the online show via:

No traditional queue at York Barbican when Daniel O’Donnell tickets go on sale tomorrow. Booking is online only

Looking ahead to Irish gigs at the double: Clannad, York Barbican, March 10 2021 and Daniel O’Donnell, York Barbican, October 21 2021

CLANNAD are booked in to play York Barbican on March 10 on their Farewell Tour, but let’s see where Boris Johnson’s new Rule of Six Months’ More Misery leaves that show. Fingers crossed, we can wave goodbye to social distancing by then to enable bidding adieu to the ethereal purveyors of traditional Irish music, contemporary folk, new age and rock, led by Moya Brennan.

Meanwhile, tickets go on sale at 9am tomorrow (Friday) at for Kincasslagh crooner Daniel O’Donnell’s return to the Barbican on October 21.

And what about…?

A visit to Duncan Lomax’s new photographic exhibition space, Holgate Gallery, opening officially from tomorrow in Holgate Road, York, to show work by the 2016 York Mystery Plays official photographer and political satirist Cold War Steve.

The York Printmakers Virtual Print Fair, running until October 4, with daily updates at

Khorsandi and Moorhouse confirmed for Your Place Comedy live-streamed gig

At the double: Justin Moorhouse and Shappi Khorsandi confirmed for Your Place Comedy home service for laughter

SHAPPI Khorsandi and Justin Moorhouse will perform live from their living rooms in the fifth instalment of Your Place Comedy streamed gigs on September 27.

Their digital double bill will be the penultimate free show for the virtual comedy project,  originally set up in lockdown to deliver live entertainment into the home from national touring acts who might ordinarily be taking to the stages of theatres and arts centres in Yorkshire and the Humber.

2017 I’m A CelebrityGet Me Out Of Here! contestant, author and BBC 1 Question Time panellist Khorsandi, 47, has appeared frequently on Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week, QI and 8 Out Of 10 Cats, as well as BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends, Just A Minute and The Now Show. She is the daughter of Iranian political satirist and poet Hadi Khorsandi, by the way.

Manchester United fan Moorhouse, 50, played Man City-supporting Young Kenny in both series of Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights on Channel 4, won Celebrity Mastermind and is a frequent panellist on BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz and a familiar voice on TalkSport and BBC 5Live’s Fighting Talk.

As you watch from the socially distanced comfort of your home, regular Your Place Comedy compere Tom FitzHigham, writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Gambler and presenter of CBBC’s Super Human Challenge, will introduce the September 27 acts from 8pm.

Humour-plated: Shappi Khorsandi dresses to fight for the right to tell jokes

The live-stream will be free to watch on YouTube and Twitch, but with an option for viewers to donate if they have enjoyed the broadcast. All money raised will be distributed equally among the ten supporting venues, none of whom has had an opportunity to derive any meaningful income from live performances since closing in the middle of March.

Set in motion by Selby Town Council arts officer Chris Jones, who runs the programming for both Selby Town Hall and Otley Courthouse, Your Place Comedy brings together the ten small, independent venues to provide a way to present performers while their doors remain closed and the future of the industry looks uncertain.

Taking part too in the project are The Ropewalk, Barton-upon-Humber; East Riding Theatre, Beverley; Junction, Goole; Helmsley Arts Centre; Shire Hall, Howden; Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds; Pocklington Arts Centre and Rotherham Theatres. Between them all, they have pledged funds to support the performers in the six shows.

Chris says: “With social distancing regulations preventing the vast majority of theatres and arts centres from operating at a profit, or in many cases even opening at all, and with no light at the end of the tunnel, venues across our region continue to look at more innovative ways of connecting with their much-missed audiences and providing work for the artists who have lost so much as a result of the pandemic crisis.

“Justin and Shappi are two of the most consistently funny and highly respected live acts on the circuit today, with nearly 50 years’ performance experience between them.

“They are perfect guests for the show format, which really provides a rather different comedy experience from that of a raucous, sold-out theatre gig. They are personal, intimate, conversational affairs…and completely free to watch. There really is no excuse not to tune in!”

News….Just in…..Moorhouse will play Your Place Comedy gig on September 27

Chris has confirmed the next Your Place Comedy show will be the last “in the current format”. “Despite a feeling of stasis – we’ve not had a live gig at Selby Town Hall since March 14 – the world has really been moving at a dizzying rate in terms of innovation in the performing arts,” he reasons.

“The current model has served us well during lockdown, but I think while audiences have been bombarded with new and exciting offerings that might offer a glimpse of the future, they are, at the same time, looking ever more longingly towards those ultimately irreplaceable live experiences they have been denied for so long.

“We need to regroup and consider how we continue delivering content with that in mind.”

Chris forewarns: “We’re keen to stress that, despite the return of schools and calls to re-populate offices, it is far from business as usual for venues or performers, and we still need the support of our much-loved audiences.

“Live activity to any meaningful degree inside venues is all but non-existent and an entire cultural ecosystem remains very much under threat.”

For full details on September 27’s Your Place Comedy and on how to watch the Khorsandi and Moorhouse double bill, go to: