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Paul Chowdhry Is Not PC

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Last month, Paul Chowdhry played London’s O2 Arena (or at least the 2,000-seater Indigo2 space within it) but tonight in Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms he can muster fewer than two dozen people, some on 2-for-1 deals. And even so, not all are welcome – most especially the talkative girls in the front row forever putting him off his pace.

They are an irritant, especially in such a small room, and Chowdhry does threaten to throw them out. Yet he also keeps shaking the hornet’s nest, engaging them in conversation when making them feel like part of the show is the last thing anybody needs. It also doesn’t help that he keeps referring to how small the audience is – as if that would change things.

Those, then, are the mitigating factors. But beyond the difficult weekend conditions, Chowdhry’s show is a very underwritten affair.

Here is a comic who thinks mere mention of the word Cockermouth is funny – and, fair enough, it is – but the follow-up ‘What’s the next town? Arsetomouth’ is neither witty nor puerile enough, and joylessly delivered.

Elsewhere he comments on call-centre staff who say ‘bear with me’ by asking ‘there’s a bear with you?!’, complains about automatic checkouts because he doesn’t want to be a supermarket employee or refers to Strictly Come Dancing as Strictly Come In Your Face Dancing. It’s all obvious stuff, left underdeveloped.

It’s disappointing on so many counts that the biggest laugh he gets is for the old racist joke about why Indians don’t play football – repeated to make a point, not especially to get a chuckle.

Chowdhry’s delivery is terse and deadpan, which certainly doesn’t enhance the already difficult atmosphere, and certainly doesn’t allow him to ride out weak material on strength of personality. The biggest laughs come when he adopts a comedy Indian accent, mangling the syntax of swearing, and although he’s open about discussing whether that makes him racist, he skirts over the fact that, either way, it’s fairly easy comedy.

There’s also a strange video introduction to the show, low-budget shots of him larking around late at night during which he winds up a minimum-wage employee of an all-night McDonald’s drive-thru, who hardly seems a legitimate target. Mock the weak, indeed.

Review date: 30 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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