From Rwanda to Ipswich to QPAC: comedian with turbulent past shares his life story

Rwandan-born comedian and performer Oliver Twist will reflect on his time as a refugee and unpack what his life looks likes now in the darkly comic JALI, coming to QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre from 23 to 26 March.

A RAW Comedy finalist, Twist has opened for Wil Anderson and Becky Lucas, and performed alongside the likes of Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish.

JALI is as delicately told as it is captivating, with Twist proving exceptional storytelling and belly-aching laughter are powerful antidotes to trauma.

Moving from Rwanda to Ipswich in 2014, Twist was due to perform in the state he first arrived in as a refugee in 2021 but was thwarted by the pandemic.

The rescheduling of the season graced Twist with time to build on the acclaimed one-person show, with composition and sound design by one of Australia’s most ARIA-nominated producers and engineers Daniel Denholm, and stunning lighting design by Morgan Moroney.

The comedian:

He was truly honoured to perform at QPAC for the first time.


I am super excited to do the show in Brisbane. A lot of the show is situated here, so it adds a special element to the season. After the Sydney Festival and Perth Festival – I am thrilled to share these stories of displacement with more people.

It’s one for the books performing at QPAC, many-a-times I walked past this venue going to TAFE. It baffles me that I get to do the show here.

The story goes that my family fled the civil war and we moved from place to place. So it’s fitting that the show has been travelling and landing back here where I began my career.

Fleeing the Rwandan civil war at the age of four, Twist spent his childhood in Malawi – first in a refugee camp, and later in the city where his mother and father started a small convenience store.

After acceptance into the Australian government’s refugee intake, the family arrived in Ipswich to begin a new life.

Then 18, Twist already knew he was funny, and embraced being in a country where comedy clubs and open mic sessions allowed him to prove it – he fast became a regular at The Sit Down Comedy Club in Brisbane and Based Comedy on the Gold Coast.

In 2017, he moved to Sydney to begin telling stories in a new way, and within a week of his arrival he had written JALI (meaning historian or storyteller), telling the tale of his family’s journey.

This year, the show has been performed at Sydney Festival and Perth Festival and was nominated for Best Independent Production at the Sydney Theatre Awards, with Twist nominated for Best Newcomer.

Sydney Morning Herald:

Twist is a star… this is why we came back to the theatre.


A natural performer with innate comic timing and enormous charm.

Season Details

Venue: QPAC’s  Cremorne Theatre
Date: 23 to 26 Mar 2022

For more information click HERE

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