OWhy is Nish Kumar such a pet peeve to angry righties everywhere? Everybody hates him, he shouts from the stage tonight, in a show that takes stock of his life as a brown-skinned partisan political comedian. His case study is a 2019 benefit concert (think “millionaires in the ballrooms”) where Kumar, flamboyant anti-Brexit gags, had a bun thrown at him before being booed off stage. The incident, much embellished in the press, sparked death threats, which in turn prompted Kumar to report on his fragile mental health.
It may seem like a more restrained show than one would expect from Kumar. But this is not the case. It’s perhaps more personal – he rarely spoke about his mental fragility, not least because (as he says here) he was in total denial about it. But the opening speech is still thunderous and self-deprecating, as the 36-year-old stands up for relentless ridicule: like the comedian who sabotages himself in front of his “pre-gouty” audience; like the messianic ego fantasizing about its own tragic assassination; and like the jerk who tries to impress people by pretending to have read Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
With the exception of the first 10 minutes of Kumar, which harasses the government for its “incompetence, corruption and ideology”, and particularly attacks the myth of competence of Rishi Sunak, we are not in a world of satire news at Mash Report. Instead, the show unfolds its account of the gig gone wrong and its aftermath through a “silly window into something more serious” — specifically, how non-white people, public figures included, are now considered anti-British.
The set has its less effective moments. A routine on the inanity of national anthems is over-illustrated by an overabundance of sugary examples. Too many jokes, no matter what their topic, result in goofy punchlines. Perhaps it stems from a concern that his serious worries could cause the comedy to capsize – which is unwarranted, but understandable. Certainly, Kumar’s chilling argument about our slide into nativism and the insights he offers into life after receiving death threats will persist even after the considerable laughter subsides.