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Nish Kumar: Who is Nish Kumar?
Who exactly is Nish Kumar? Is he:
1: a stand up comedian
2: one half of acclaimed sketch duo the Gentlemen of Leisure
3: Host of Fat Tuesday and cult comedy lecture series PLEB Talks
4: A British Asian
5: An arsehole
Nish Kumar: Who Is Nish Kumar?
What an assured debut this is from Nish Kumar. A calling card which proves beyond doubt that he is already a skilled comic, preloaded with an hour of polished, gimmick-free stand-up guaranteed to do the job.
Although he’s been mistaken for pretty much every non-Caucasian nationality under the sun, Kumar is a British-Asian man, and this, indeed, informs some of his act. But it’s in the context of what he largely sees as a post-racist world: while his immigrant parents feared the feral nationalists, for his generation they are figures of fun. The incredible self-sabotaging racist in a North-East pub – one of the most memorable of Kumar’s anecdotes – is certainly a ridiculous laughing stock, and Kumar eloquently covers his roots in a smart conclusion to the show.
But this is only a small part of his confident repertoire. The show is about identity, but not just racial identity. He’s got plenty of amusingly self-effacing stories about what a dick he was at school… and how he hasn’t really grown out of that at the age of 26. A notional adult, he’s still sexually intimidated by women, useless in a fight, and still holding a torch for Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Tales of social impotence are bread-and-butter in stand-up, as is life in a grotty town – another of this Croydon resident’s staples – but Kumar delivers with a warmth, openness and eye for quirky observation which mean his routines feel fresh.
He races through the material, but doesn’t let the pace stop him from enjoying the language. He’s a man who knows how the mere sound of words can affect their meaning – as proven in a playfully edgy section about some of the most offensive racial slurs – while he lets phrases such as ‘a Proustian wank’ roll around the room, too, as he combines his obvious smarts with a knob gag, about his failures in the bedroom.
Although he’s relatively new to stand-up, Kumar is not a stranger to the stage, having appeared in the inventively silly sketch duo the Gentlemen of Leisure, and his ease in the spotlight makes for a relaxed but sure-footed performance.
There’s not, perhaps, a stand-out virtuoso routine or strong unique selling point that would give Kumar an extra edge. But equally this is a show that proves he can do the job with panache, and open many doors.
|Date of live review: Saturday 4th Aug, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
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