Ahir Shah: Texture | Review by Steve Bennett
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Ahir Shah: Texture

Note: This review is from 2014

Review by Steve Bennett

Still just 23, Ahir Shah has been on the circuit for more than six years - and this show establishes him as a sophisticated comedian with an elegant, eloquent style that probes beyond the superficial.

Mixing material that appeals to the intelligence with that which appeals to the emotions, Shah covers a lot of ground around the ‘petty frustrations of independent adulthood’. Moving out of his parents’ home, he finds himself struggling with the cost of living as opposed to the cost of merely existing – a pertinent angle in these austere times – as well as the loneliness of being single.

He claims to hate stand-up, decrying it as a manipulative,psychological trick – which is ironic since he proves himself so useful at it. But that stance is part of his postmodern, post-Stewart Lee approach to the art, acknowledging the cliches. He professes to hate the hollow icebreakers based on a comedian’s appearance, though somehow contrives to deploy one, too. Likewise he knows the likes of Ikea and Tinder might be topics over-exposed in comedy – yet blasts away anyway, confident he’s got a new angle.

The material is wide-ranging and fluid, from Nigel Farage to existential regret, Hinduism to bird-based analogies, but keeping true to a wider topic. What might be called callbacks are more like recurring motifs, adding to the feeling this is a show of substance as it considers his life today compared to his grandfather’s, arriving from India in 1964 with a few pounds in his pocket, keen to start a new life.

Shah has a firm grasp of oratorial techniques, too. varying the pace and deploying the pause to well-judged effect. He performs without a mic to add to the impact and the intimacy, as he acts out his scenes with passion.

With such command of form and content, there is a danger Shah becomes a little smug with it – and not one this Cambridge graduate entirely evades, especially when pontificating on his theorems of life. But overall the impression is that this is a delightful, considered and intelligent piece of work from a comedian who’s gained his wings, to deploy one of those bird-based analogies of which he’s so fond.

Review date: 25 Aug 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ The Counting House

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