Hardeep Singh Kohli was meant to talk about seven nostalgic songs within his hour show, Mix Tape. He made it to three. This tells you everything you need to know about the Glaswegian funnyman’s style of comedy, which centres around improvisation. Make no mistake, as crowd engagement goes, Hardeep is a veteran and it is hard to come across comedians nowadays that can do it with such flare. His speedy, witty comebacks and rapport with the audience is something to be admired. But if Scottish references escape you it will be hard, verging on near on impossible, to keep up.
Perhaps if he could get through more than just three songs, that might help.
It is difficult to discuss the material of his set, with Hardeep not actually having many jokes to dissect. The show is supposed to create a narrative through songs that have shaped Hardeep’s life, starting with a Scottish classic, Canny Shove Yer Grannie, the first song he ever learned, to a Bollywood hit from the film, Sholay, which he used to tell a narrative about favouritism toward his oldest brother Raj with a dry wit that was thoroughly entertaining. He manages to squeeze in an Iron Maiden song to highlight his plight as a Sikh in Glasgow attending a rock concert and reenacting how he would head-bang with a turban, which cannot help but be funny.
There is, however, a poignant message amongst all the frivolity, about how music saved his life, and there is a dramatic shift in tone toward the end of the show when he spoke about his marital breakdown, which nearly brought me to tears. Leaving the show on this note, I felt saddened rather than uplifted. The show needed more joke content, structure and general fleshing out to be complete. Perhaps if he could get through more than just three songs, that might help.
If you’re looking for a show that’s full of thought-out concepts, this probably isn’t the show for you. But if you know Hardeep, like Hardeep, are well-versed in everything Scottish and are game for a spot of public discourse, this is your show.