Writer and performer: Nish Kumar
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves is not a comfortable comedy. It ends with Nish Kumar, worrying that the show might have been a bit of a downer, and desperately trying to find a reason for optimism. It begins with support act Rosie Jones ruthlessly poking fun at the perceived liberal, politically correct attitudes of the audience. Jones is gay, has cerebral palsy and is, tragically, northern. As a result, Jones is able to tread fearlessly where other comedians only tip-toe. Jones excels at inducing guilt and embarrassment in the audience. Having persuaded patrons to loosen up and shout out the word “spastic”, Jones criticises the muted response – “It’s like you’ve never shouted the word at a disabled person”. The irreverent Jones even signs off by introducing the main act with the comment: “Don’t get your hopes up.” But then Kumar gives as good as he gets, reminding Jones she was only booked as support to ensure they received priority parking at the venue.
For Nish Kumar, the political is personal. It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves is structured around how developments in the last few years have impacted upon him. He ranges from talking about how his comic idols have turned out to have feet of clay, to obvious traumas like the continuing stereotyping of people of colour in news reports, to views on Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Kumar has to acknowledge, however, a degree of uncertainly in view of the fact that the Brexit result shows almost 52% of the population might not share his views. He also seems willing to invent his own interpretation of phrases, taking “Metropolitan Elite” to mean teachers and Asians rather than, say, smug Londoners who have been insulated from the austerity politics of the government.
Kumar admits to being baffled that the state of the nation is now so bad, that a 33-year-old comedian feels obliged to speak up on behalf of his community. Kumar’s style of delivery perfectly matches the content of the show being a screech of outrage sounding, he admits, like someone has stepped on a Bee Gees’ dick.
The script for It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves is immaculate being full of evocative witty phrases. The current government is summed up as an Ocean’s 11 of rank incompetence and Kumar complains his family has integrated so well into British society they have become effectively racists. Along the way, there are some savage assessments of male feminists, fellow comedians and public figures including Toby Jones. described as a “journalist”. There is also an excruciatingly embarrassing interlude with Kumar describing to younger audience members, the difficulty involved in trying to masturbate using a dial-up internet connection to access pornography.
The only flaw in an otherwise excellent show is the ending which Kumar acknowledges has been re-written once and, even in the revised version, doesn’t feel like the call-to-arms that it may have been intended as. But as a cry of outrage at the confused state of the nation, delivered in a side-splitting manner, It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves is hard to beat.
Reviewed on 24th February 2019 | Image: Contributed