Paul Chowdhry

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

For much of Paul Chowdhry’s show, you feel as if he’s talking about things he feels he ought to talk about, rather than what he thinks will be genuinely funny.

If you hadn’t guessed from the name, or the posters, Chowdhry is Asian, and because of what happened in London last month, as an angle that’s suddenly a lot more clout. So it’s a topic to be confronted.

But although he dedicates a fair bit of time to this, he doesn’t seem to delve particularly deep. Apparently he gets lots of space when he gets onto the Tube with his rucksack now That’s about the strength of it, weak jokes given an edge by 7/7 that they don’t deserve.

Oh, here’s another one: ‘The only reason I would join the Al Qaeda network is because the reception on the Vodafone network is so bad.’

‘Too far?’ he asks after every terrorism-related joke. Or ‘too soon?’ How about simply ‘too weak?’

But away from these subjects which he possibly feels were forced upon him, things pick up. He talks about brushes with the racist far-Right, about growing up with his first-generation immigrant parents, unable to use the phone, or his derision for a nightclub toilet attendants or minicab driver.

His material here doesn’t even pretend to be anything but silly – even though his slow, serious delivery style lends extra impact because it’s so mismatched to the material.

He’s got a battery of performance skills to bring these things to life, whether it’s his ability to slip into an Arnold Schwazenegger voice, impersonate badly-dubbed kung-fu movies, or the simple device of repeating a word way beyond the point of annoyance.

This is pure mechanical trickery, but it gets people laughing. Behind the smoke and mirrors, the substance is still a little disappointing.

Chowdhry has bad habits, too. He obsesses about a couple of empty chairs to the exclusion of all else and is perpetually worried by how he’s doing. ‘Tough crowd’ is really not the catchphrase anybody wants. even though he finds himself repeats it often.

On the strength of this debut, Chowdrhy’s got potential but is not there yet, at least when it comes to full-length offerings. This seems too much like a half-hour set, stretched to fit.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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