review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

Nish Kumar: Who Is Nish Kumar?

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

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.

Review date: 4 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.