Shappi Khorsandi

Shaparak "Shappi" Khorsandi (Persian: شاپرک خرسندی, born 8 June 1973)[1] is a British[2] comedian and author of Iranian origin. She is the daughter of the Iranian political satirist and poet Hadi Khorsandi. Her family left Iran when she was a child following the Islamic Revolution.

Shappi Khorsandi
Khorsandi performing at Latitude in 2009.
Birth nameShaparak Khorsandi
Born (1973-06-08) 8 June 1973
Tehran, Iran
MediumStand-up, television
GenresBlack comedy, observational comedy, deadpan
Subject(s)Everyday life, Iranian culture, British politics
Christian Reilly
(m. 2005; div. 2011)
Parent(s)Hadi Khorsandi (father)
Notable works and roles

In January 2016, she became president of Humanists UK,[3] and became vice-president in 2019.[4] Her second book and first novel, Nina is Not OK, was released in 2016.[3]

Background and personal life

The daughter of Hadi Khorsandi, she was born in Iran and says her earliest memory is 'riding on a bicycle in Tehran, on my uncle's lap at dawn, to get chocolate milk'.[5] She and her family were forced to flee from Iran to London after the Islamic Revolution following the publication of a satirical poem her father composed.

The poem was seen as critical of the revolutionary regime. Khorsandi was raised without any religion,[6] and identifies as an atheist and a humanist.[7] She later became a patron of Humanists UK, which appointed her as its President for a three-year term from January 2016, succeeding Jim Al-Khalili.[8]

Khorsandi graduated from King Alfred's College, now the University of Winchester, in 1995, with a degree in Drama, Theatre and television, then moved on to pursue a career in comedy. In 2010, the university awarded her an honorary doctorate.[9]

Khorsandi was married to fellow comedian Christian Reilly, with whom she has a son, Cassius.[10] They divorced in 2011.[11] Khorsandi lives with her son in South-West London near Richmond Park. Her father and brother are also stand-up comedians.[12] In November 2012, she announced on Twitter that she was expecting her second child, due in the summer of 2013. On 7 June 2013, Khorsandi gave birth to a baby girl, Genevieve. In a 2014 interview she said "I’m doing it all on my own, I have no contact with the father. But that’s fine, I’m not angry or bitter."[11] She identifies as bisexual.[13]


Khorsandi performs comedy, having been a noted performer at Joe Wilson's Comedy Madhouse throughout 1997. She has appeared on many BBC Radio 4 programmes, including Quote... Unquote, Loose Ends, You and Yours, Midweek, Just A Minute, The Now Show and The News Quiz, as well as BBC Television's Have I Got News For You and QI. In July 2009, she hosted her own four-part series, Shappi Talk on BBC Radio 4, examining what it is like growing up in multi-cultural families.[14] She also writes an occasional column for online magazine

In 2007, Khorsandi made her first trip to Australia and the Melbourne Comedy Festival with her show Asylum Speaker. She also appeared live on the Australia comedy talk show Rove. Later, she was nominated for best breakthrough act at the 2007 Chortle Awards. In December 2008, she appeared on the BBC stand-up television show Live at the Apollo alongside Russell Kane and Al Murray.[15] She also made an appearance on Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow on 20 June 2009, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on 26 June 2009 and 8 Out of 10 Cats on 10 July 2009.

Khorsandi's memoir, A Beginner's Guide to Acting English, was published by Ebury Press on 2 July 2009.[16] She performed her show, The Distracted Activist, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 6 to 31 August 2009.[17]

Khorsandi was a panellist on Question Time in 2006, and returned on 14 January 2010. During that show, she mentioned that she supports Labour. She performed on the second episode of Let's Dance for Sport Relief 2010.[18][19]

In 2010, Khorsandi took part in Channel 4's Comedy Gala, a benefit show held in aid of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, filmed live at the O2 Arena in London on 30 March. She appeared as a guest in Genius hosted by Dave Gorman on 31 October 2010.[20] In March 2012, Khorsandi appeared on Channel 4's The Celebrity Bank Job and won £59,000 for her chosen charities.

Khorsandi is a member of the Arts Emergency Service, a British charity working with 16- to 19-year-olds in further education from diverse backgrounds.[21]

On 19 and 20 November 2014, Khorsandi was a guest panellist on Loose Women, filling in for Jamelia. She appeared on The Blame Game on BBC Northern Ireland hosted by Tim McGarry on 5 December 2014.[22]

In 2016, Khorsandi appeared with her son on Big Star's Little Star. Also in 2016, along with numerous other celebrities, Khorsandi toured the UK to support Jeremy Corbyn's bid to become Prime Minister.[23][24]

In November 2017, Khorsandi appeared as a contestant on the seventeenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! and was placed 11th in the competition.[25]

A Beginner's Guide to Acting English

The book describes the way in which Khorsandi experienced England as a young girl.[26] The narrative begins with her attending nursery school, The Kings' International Nursery School, with her brother, Peyvand. Throughout the book, she explains the ways in which the Persian language differs from English: "They called me ‘poppet’. Iranians said 'jaan' or 'azizam'." She also expresses pride in how her father took English classes and was praised for his affinity with the written word, though she also felt he was able to be more humorous in Persian.

Other themes include her experiences with English food and customs,[26] the war between Iran and Iraq, and the hostilities that she and her family encounter—she notes, for example, having been referred to as a terrorist.

See also


  1. "Twitter / Shappi Khorsandi: It's my birthday on Tuesday". Twitter. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  2. "Shappi Khorsandi on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  3. "Khorsandi's debut novel to Ebury". The Bookseller. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  4. "Acclaimed scientist and broadcaster Alice Roberts appointed President of Humanists UK". Humanists UK. 11 November 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  5. Lisa, Williams. "Shappi Khorsandi: How I Was Raised". TantrumXYZ. TantrumXYZ. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  6. Shappi Khorsandi (January–February 2007). "Diary: Comic timing". New Humanist:Articles, Volume 122 Issue 1. The Rationalist Association. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  7. Charlotte Higgins. "Shappi Khorsandi: the last laugh". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  8. "Shappi Khorsandi named new President of the British Humanist Association". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  9. "Comedian Shappi Khorsandi to be honoured by the University of Winchester". The University of Winchester. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  10. Budak, Bertan (21 May 2010). "My perfect weekend: Shappi Khorsandi". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  11. Roz Laws (2 May 2014). "Comedian Shappi Khorsandi heads to the West Midlands for a run of shows – Birmingham Post". birminghampost. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  12. Video interview of Khorsandi on Carpool
  13. "Shappi Khorsandi: I'm bisexual". Chortle. 18 August 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  14. – 22:45 (19 October 2010). "Radio 4 Programmes – Shappi Talk: Series 1". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  15. "BBC listing". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  16. "A Beginner's Guide to Acting English". Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  17. "Shappi Khorsandi: The Distracted Activist | Edinburgh Festival Guide". 21 August 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  18. "Who will be competing on Show two?". BBC. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  19. "Show Two Report". BBC. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  20. "Genius With Dave Gorman – Episode 2.6. Noddy Holder and Shappi Khorsandi – British Comedy Guide". Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  21. "Media Diversity UK". Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  22. "The Blame Game". BBC Iplayer. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  23. "#JC4PM". jc4pmtour. 28 July 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  24. Wilkinson, Michael (1 February 2016). "Celebrities to tour Britain in 'Jeremy Corbyn For Prime Minister' musical show". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  25. "Meet your 2017 Celebrity Campmates!". Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  26. "A Beginner's Guide to Acting English, By Shappi Khorsandi". The Independent. 3 July 2009.
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