“Is it a stand-up show, is it a rally?” Nish Kumar certainly blurs the boundaries between the two. In fact I’m pretty certain if he asked his audience to storm a barricade, they would.
The sheer passion with which he makes his points is inspiring
Nish Kumar gives us an hour of pure Lefty Liberal political humour that will delight any “Guardian-ista” (Kumar’s phrasing). He covers all the political topics of the moment – Brexit, Trump, structural racism, sexism, trans rights and terrorism – with extreme eloquence and humour, slamming any right-wing counter-arguments that get in his way. The sheer passion with which he makes his points is inspiring, sometimes even stunning the audience into raptured silence before he brings in his punchline.
I agree with everything Kumar says, and I respect the way in which he says it, but I do take issue with the echo chamber nature of his show. Kumar addresses this issue and encourages the audience to take action outside of the performance space, but there is something uncomfortably smug about the routine. The comedy is in many ways an opportunity for the audience to pat themselves on the back for having the “correct” opinion. At the Fringe, it is an almost impossible situation to avoid, but I would love to see Kumar push the boundaries of his audience demographic. I believe he is talented enough to change minds, and I’d love to see him do it more.
I also believe he could push his points even further. He is in a privileged position to speak about racial issues and he talks fluently about the experience of being a victim of racism. Speaking to a predominantly white audience (at least on the night I reviewed), I would be interested to see him explore more fully how white people can change their attitudes towards race. His show could be even stronger if he pushed even the most liberal of minds to the point of discomfort.
Kumar’s show is the perfect introduction to liberalism and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a political education. For those who feel themselves to be informed already, it is a satisfying display of articulate opinions.