Laughter and tears as Joe relives his unique childhood

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Fresh from an acclaimed sold-out run at the Belfast Comedy Festival, Fake I.D, is back at Accidental Theatre in the city.

In his one-man show, local writer Joseph Nawaz takes the audience through some old family snapshots, and memories of his childhood years in 80s and 90s Belfast, sharing his unique, poignant, often funny stories of growing up in a mixed-race, mixed-faith household at the height of the Troubles.

“The show is funny but there are moments of pathos and stories with a certain sadness,” said Joe, in an exclusive interview with The Guide.

“It is about growing up in a unique environment, desperately trying to fit in and spectacularly failing.”

Growing up isn’t easy for anyone, but for Joe he found it difficult to blend in when his family background was so different from everyone else around him. Over the years he struggled against his own identity, trying everything he could to become just the same as his school friends.

“One of the pivotal moments in my life was when I got a fake ID to get into a pub,” he revealed. “I didn’t just change my age, I changed my name to Donnelly as well.

“My parents found it and that was the moment they realised I was ashamed of who I was. It was a real turning point.

“The show is about me coming to terms with who I am and my unique cultural identity.” One of the central themes running through the show is Joe’s complicated relationship with his Pakistani father, whose sudden, untimely death precipitated a trip to Pakistan and some subsequent surprising discoveries.

“My father came over to Northern Ireland in the 70s to study a PhD. He met my mother and ended up staying here and raising a family,” Joe related.

“My show is almost a testimony to the resilience of my parents bringing up children in a very divided society.” Directed by Emily Foran, this promises to be a funny, sometimes poignant evening, centred on the main protagonist’s struggle with family and identity against the backdrop of an often troubled cultural and political landscape.

Joe Nawaz will be taking to the stage of the Accidental Theatre in Shaftesbury Square tonight (Friday) and tomorrow night (Saturday).

Tickets are priced £10 and are available online at