A simple Twist of fate brings bright spark comic to our shores

Oliver Twist is the Rwandan-born refugee steamrolling the Australian comedy scene, who now brings his one man show JALI home to Brisbane after a sold-out Sydney season.

Jul 23, 2021, updated Jul 23, 2021

JALI is a West African noun meaning historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet, or musician.

An apt name for Oliver Twist’s one-man comedy show that initially was written as a recollection of his unique lived experience as a refugee fleeing the Rwandan civil war.

The show then transformed into a work about adapting to new environments, weaving the story of Twist’s life with comedy, tragedy, hope and resilience.

Twist used an African proverb to best describe the show, ‘when the music changes, so does the dance’.

Twist said he was honoured to be performing at QPAC in the state he first arrived in as a refugee.

“Queensland remains my new home wherever I go,” he said.

“I love the fact we were resettled here; Queensland and Brisbane to me are peaceful, which is important to people fleeing conflict – including myself.

“Vibrant significance is at the core of the show, painting beautiful and ugly moments that occur in Rwanda, Malawi and here in Australia.

“I am over the moon to take people on a journey with my story – stories many ex-refugees and current refugees share.”

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Twist fled the Rwandan civil war at the age of four, spending his childhood in a refugee camp in Malawi before moving into the city with his parents who began running a convenience store.

He arrived in Australia with his family in 2014, settling in Ipswich as part of Australia’s refugee intake at the age of 18 and began cutting his teeth at open mic nights at comedy venues around Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Following a move to Sydney, Twist wrote JALI in a one week frenzy, developing the show with the Griffin Theatre Company and premiering it in March to a sold-out season and rave reviews across the board.

He now brings the show back to where it all started, with a four-date run at QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre in October.

JALI runs from 13 October to 16 October at the Cremorne Theatre in QPAC, for more information visit QPAC’s website. 

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