Photo of Pepa Duarte, credit Jose Farinha. Photo of Stella Graham.

Coventry comedian Stella Graham will headline No Direction Home gig

In the first ever virtual stand-up comedy tour of the UK, a group of comedians from refugee and migrant backgrounds are using laughter to connect with audiences and speak of their experiences coming to and living in this country.

Produced by Counterpoints Arts, in partnership with Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, the online tour is coming “to Coventry” at 8pm on Sunday 18th October.

The guest headliner for the Zoom gig will be Coventry born comedian Stella Graham. Stella has performed at the Edinburgh Festival and all over the world. During Lockdown while comedy gigs were on pause, Stella made a series of popular videos on social media called Angry Workouts.

No Direction Home was formed by Counterpoints Arts and Camden People’s Theatre in 2018, mentored and supported by top stand-up, writer and director Tom Parry.  It is a unique course for aspiring comics from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

The No Direction Home participants have already done online gigs in venues including the Southbank Centre with guest headliners such as Romesh Ranganathan, Lou Sanders and Sindhu Vee.

Now, with lockdown keeping comedy clubs shut, they are heading off on a virtual tour across England, Scotland and Wales, telling jokes about themselves, their experiences and their lives in the UK.

No Direction Home performers include aspiring stand-ups originally from countries such as Syria, Iran, Iraq, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Pepa Duarte, who has been part of the No Direction Home group mentored by Tom Parry, says: "I love stand up because it challenges everything I know in loads of ways. I am an actor but that doesn't make me a comedian. I am an improviser but that doesn't make me a comedian.
WHAT makes me a comedian?!! I hope that Tom Parry does to be honest. "

Iraqi-born Yasmeen Audisho Ghrawi said: “No Direction Home is a space to show up/stand up, a space to be seen and heard, a space of celebration. We come from places of varying remoteness to the UK, some of us fresh off the back of a truck, others migrated here years ago. We hope to keep sharing the love – and our jokes.”

Tom Green from Counterpoints Arts said: "Live stand-up comedy on Zoom has been one of the wonderful surprises of the past 6 months. It really works!

“We're really excited to be bringing No Direction Home to Coventry as part of our online UK tour. Our line-up has great variety, with a brilliant host, the award-winning Tom Parry. Loads of great comedians have come from Coventry and it's great to have one of them, Stella Graham, to headline the gig."

Stella Graham said: "I'm really looking forward to doing the online gig. Coventry is where I grew up, I have tons of fond memories of the place and I'm sure a lot of my humour was shaped there through friends and family.

“I would have loved to do the gig in person but at least this way folks are saving money on cabs and babysitters. No queueing for the bar or bathroom too!

“I'm excited to see the other acts as the work No Direction Home have done is fantastic. It's a great way to give new comedy voices a platform and I can't wait to hear their material."

Chenine Bhathena from Coventry City of Culture said: “As we build towards our City of Culture year we are delighted to be supporting Counterpoints Arts to spotlight the breadth of great talent from the city.  The culture of a new generation is the force that moves us forwards.

“Laughter is one of the great features of being human, our ability to smile and laugh at ourselves and the situations we find ourselves in, especially in times of adversity and conflict, are what connect us. More than ever before we all need laughter in our lives.  We can’t wait to welcome No Direction Home to Coventry. I can’t wait to tune in on Sunday night.”

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