My American Cousin | iO Theater | Improv/Sketch | Chicago Reader
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My American Cousin 

When: Thursdays. Continues through Feb. 5 2009
Price: $8
Jameelah Shelo's one-woman sketch revue offers characters that rarely get significant focus on Chicago comedy stages: Middle Easterners and South Asians. A native south-sider of Palestinian descent, she starts by earnestly reciting "The Star-Spangled Banner"--as if to quell accusations of antipatriotism--then slips into Becky Bin Laden, the terrorist's cheerful third cousin, who lives in Minnesota and loves making snickerdoodles. Under Min-Aha Beeck's direction, Shelo's acting is mostly superficial--and the show can be too blatantly educational at times--but her unflagging confidence and exuberance carry the evening. Shelo's buoyancy comes across perfectly in a scene where she plays a naive but determined phone sex operator with an American male caller on the line. "Well," she tells him, "my home here in India does not have a back door. . . " --Ryan Hubbard



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