Review: Nish Kumar @ The Lowry, Salford

Self-proclaimed “remoaner” funny-man Nish Kumar unleashed an impassioned tirade of fire and fury on the people of Salford at the Lowry Theatre, the biggest audience that he has ever performed for.

After touring the Brexit heartland of the midlands, Kumar announced that he was happy to be in Manchester, which he labelled as something along the lines of “The People’s Democratic Republic of Remain-istan.”

As a political comedian, he told MM last November that there is an “expectation that I am not behind the curve.” He began by proclaiming the idiocy of the Brexit process, a routine that could most likely have most likely remained unchanged since he began the nationwide tour of the aptly titled “It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves.”

As expected, he fired shots at Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet but he remained tight lipped about the opposition party, which was a shame as I was hoping for a more rounded take on the issues. Political voyeurs may be disappointed that he doesn’t hone in on specific current issues but will be pleased to see that he doesn’t hold back on overarching issues that have embroiled the Brexit process.

He’s unapologetic about his fury with Brexit advocates, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and the “idiots” that he has to sit next to on television shows like Peston (ITV) and Question Time (BBC).

His delivery is rapid-fire and ceaseless; Kumar has a pent up exasperated energy that unfolds on-stage. His 75-minute set is packed with material and it’s an unwavering and unrelenting ride.

The British-Indian comedian’s ire is also directed at social and humanitarian issues. There’s a genuine a concern from the comedian, his jokes tackle serious topics and burning issues in the zeitgeist and he manages to toe a fine line that never actually derides these issues or makes light of them. Kumar acts as a kind of doomsday proclaimer, the comedy stemming from the seriousness of the current chaos. His act crystalizes just how much trouble he believes that the UK are in.

His frustration breached topics like race and cultural identity, he’s outraged by British-Indians who voted to exit the EU, saying that they had assimilated in the country to such an extent that they had in turn become racists against their own culture. His own family also comes in to the fold, he recounts how his family are “Shindus” – “shit Hindus” because they partake in very little of the Hindu culture.

Next, he took aim at his comedy heroes who have woefully let him down: The Simpsons, for how they dealt with the recent issues with the character of Apu; Ricky Gervais and his jokes about trans people; and Louis CK’s sexual misconduct.

He was joined by support act Rosie Jones, a comedian with cerebral palsy. That’s her shtick -she told the audience, explaining that her speech was sometimes hard to fathom and her movements were “floppy” and that sometimes she could use her disability to her advantage. There was angelic evil behind her jokes. This is an act to watch out for, she shocks and delights with unbridled mirth.

The last decade has become an era where society has matured to societal sensitivities, there is an increased awareness and representation on matters of identity, race and sexuality. Kumar is a comedian of this time, his sensibilities entwined with that the contemporary climate.

Some may disagree with some of his views and perhaps label him a “soft touch” or worse an “SJW” and harken for the days where shock comedians like Frankie Boyle, Eddie Murphy and Kevin Hart could get away with saying whatever they liked.

Kumar however shares likenesses with a group of comedians that would be deemed even more controversial by the “right-thinking-public” in their time. I refer to comedians such as Bill Hicks, George Carlin and Lenny Bruce, who were left-leaning and fierce in their vitriol against unacceptable elements of society.

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