Inder Manocha – Original Review | Review by Steve Bennett

Inder Manocha – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

It’s the dilemma facing many comic from an ethnic background; whether to be defined by your culture and become known as, say, an Asian comic - or whether to simply get on with what you find funny regardless of its origin. And probably still be known as an Asian comic all the same.

Nevertheless, it’s a line Inder Manocha straddles uncomfortably. He does make much of his background, but only very occasionally throws any light on it.

The comedy-by-numbers start does not auger well: "It’s good to be here, but then again I’m from Kashmir, so it’s good to be anywhere…I know what you’re thinking ‘it’s the bastard son of the Asian Loyd Grossman’". It’s hardly distinguishing stuff

Elsewhere he just keeps pressing the familiar buttons, considering, for instance, what if an Asian man was in Star Trek/Taxi Driver/something else equally implausible. This usually seems just an excuse for some exaggerated silly-foreigner voices (including a bizarre Nigerian accent even Jim Davidson might baulk at), and mostly serve to reinforce the stereotype of Asians as a community of corner shop-owners.

It would be wrong to think it was all so superficial – he creates a few cunningly amusing artifices from this unambitious stance; and even if he is employing a well-tried formula, he does it very well. But the material is just not as interesting or groundbreaking as he seems to think it is.

Equally, his delivery proves reasonably effective, even though it’s utterly affected – striking poses and over-emphasising words because he’s learned these are proven comedy techniques, rather than because they come naturally to him.

Despite his recent Emma award for best ethnic comic, Manocha remains a technically competent act, rather than a remarkable one.  He’s certainly less incisive than The Kumars or Goodness Gracious Me, which are not only the yardstick for Asian comedy, but pretty much all we’ve got. It’s hard to see this comic changing that.

Review date: 6 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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