Paul Chowdhry: Live Innit | Review of his Amazon Prime special
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Paul Chowdhry: Live Innit

Review of his Amazon Prime special

You don’t have to have a masochistic streak be in Paul Chowdhry’s audience, but it might help – as there’s a good chance he’ll attack you as a ‘bastard’ or ‘wanker’.

It can be brutal, but finesse is not his strong suit. He generally gets laughs for how blunt he can be, rather than how witty – but laughs he certainly gets.

The guy filming on his iPhone rightly gets both barrels, given how much professional recording equipment surrounds him. But it’s the lone white guy in a sea of Bengalis that most attracts Chowdhry’s attention, feeding into the racial stereotypes that’s the backbone of his comedy. ‘It’s like a beheading waiting to happen,’ he jokes

It’s slightly sad that his frequent quips about all Asians being seen as terrorists still work, as it doesn’t say much about how the world has moved on, as well as making the set seem a bit trite. He jokes that being brown and bearded he gets train carriages to himself and that passing through airports is still a hassle… especially when clutching a mass of cables. 

He sticks to well-trodden ground on such topics as men saying ‘yes’ to everyone on Tinder, or impersonating a Chinese voice by evoking badly-synched kung-fu movies of the 1970s. While every major touchpoint of bad-taste comedy is here – Princess Diana, Madelaine McCann, Michael Jackson – his gags don’t rank with the best. But he likes to be seen as an edgy bad boy of comedy, and such topics reinforce that.

Chowdhry has a slightly weird obsession with gay people, too. Nothing you would identify as explicitly homophobic, but he flirts with the fact his audience seem to find the word alone amusing. He certainly likes the joke that all-male groups must have a gay undercurrent so much that he does it twice, for both shisha bars and terror cells.

Quite a few routines outstay their usefulness. That he looks like a particular criminal’s efit is an amusing incident, but boy does he milk it. And him re-living the backlash from trying to provoke a row with model Gigi Hadid is long-winded and inconclusive – as well as skating over the fact it really doesn’t show him in a good light, more of a troll. Still he gets to take the mickey out of Asian people saying ‘wideos’ rather than ‘videos’ that a white comic would never be able to do. 

Speaking of which, he has a sharp take on the etiquette of who’s allowed to mimic accents, a good routine elevated by his impersonation of the white dude wanting his right to be offensive. A similar flourish of performance enlivens a routine abut women sexting erotic pictures with a wonderfully cartooonish act-out.

But while there are good lines liberally scattered through the special, the sense generally is of being battered rather than cajoled into laughter.

  • Paul Chowdhry: Live Innit is available to Amazon Prime subscribers here.

Review date: 29 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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