sun 15/09/2019

Nish Kumar, Soho Theatre review - the state we're in | reviews, news & interviews

Nish Kumar, Soho Theatre review - the state we're in

Nish Kumar, Soho Theatre review - the state we're in

He's angry – but he has a lot to be angry about

Nish Kumar presents The Mash Report on BBC1

Blimey, Nish Kumar is angry. Angry about Donald Trump, angry about misogyny, angry about racism, angry about Brexit – angry about a lot of things. But before anyone could dismiss It's In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves as a checklist of woke priorities for the liberal metropolitan elite, he turns the joke against himself – it shows how upside down the world is, he says, that a 33-year-old comic whose favourite food is dips has become a spokesman for the politically engaged.

As anyone who has seen Kumar fronting The Mash Report – a comedy take on the week's news – will know, Brexit really riles him. His despair, now freed from the BBC's guidelines on balance, takes up a large part of the show – from the "Ocean's Eleven of rank incompetence" of the Cabinet ministers negotiating it, to those in his own family who voted Leave in the referendum. Kumar doesn't spare them in examining why so many British Asians are anti-EU – it's an illuminating take, as is his gloriously unexpected explanation of what lies behind Jacob Rees-Mogg's public persona.

The show is well researched and cleverly argued, but there's real heart here too. Brexit, Kumar says, has unleashed racism in the UK – leading to 52 per cent of his club gigs being rather uncomfortable, he notes in a subtle aside – and he is honest enough to admit that he has gone for the cheap gag in past shows rather than an intelligent takedown. He talks too about how a bunch of his comedic heroes – including The Simpsons, Louis CK, Woody Allen and Bill Cosby – cannot now be viewed in the same light, and his DVD collection is rather unfortunate.

Louis CK isn't the only comic to be skewered as Kumar tries to make sense of a world where he just wants the news cycle to stop: Ricky Gervais really gets it in the neck for some recent comments he made about trans people. I must confess at this point I could have done with rather less outrage and a more nuanced take on the subject, but he was on a roll...

The show felt overstretched as it ran past the hour, and there were some dips in pace. But in tying together an undistinguished appearance on Question Time (“Romesh Ranganathan was busy”) and yet another “random stop” at airport security for a brown man whose own mother says he sometimes looks “terroristy”, Kumar brilliantly managed to win the room round again. Some material doesn't quite hit home, but when it's good, it's very good indeed.

  • Nish Kumar is touring until 31 March 2019
Kumar tries to make sense of a world where he just wants the news cycle to stop


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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