So worried he may be cancelled, comedian Paul Chowdhry wants to be the new Cilla Black. He wants to be family entertainment. A puppet sits on a chair next to him signalling his new child friendly persona. Fortunately, it’s just a ruse. Chowdhry remains as offensive as ever.
Some of his routines have got him into trouble and tonight he sails close to the wind with seemingly no subject off limits. He roasts the Indian families in the stalls and mocks a white couple from Essex who sit in the front row. He asks the white couple if they feel concerned about being in a room in which the majority of people are of South Asian decent. He ventriloquizes a ‘yes’ from the couple. ‘Now you know what it feels like’ Chowdhry quips.
His insults are funny and good-natured and so, for the most part, the British Indian comedian gets away with it, even if a few jokes, very close to the bone, draw gasps rather than laughs from the audience. And because all races come under Chowdhry’s scrutiny at least there’s a sense of democracy in his routine.
His edginess may be one of the reasons why he isn’t such a household name as other South Asian comedians such as Nish Kumar and Romesh Ranganathan, both of who receive a typical Chowdhry bashing. However, he takes pride in being the first South Asian comedian to be featured on Live at the Apollo back in 2012. His refusal to play it safe, ensures that his act feels excitingly authentic.
His confidence on stage is impressive and he quickly puts down any hecklers. He’s willing to go off piste too and makes as much as he can of the pharmacist who can’t remember how many people attended his wedding. ‘100?’ Chowdhry asks, ‘200?’ The Apollo erupts with laughter. He knows his audience well.
He’s an excellent mimic too and his regional accents are spot on – as there were in Rory O’Hanlon’s very witty warm-up act – and there are occasional flashes of physical comedy too. He’s a natural talent. It’s doubtful whether he will be hosting a remake of Blind Date any time soon, but. like Cilla, he’s a lorra lorra fun.
Reviewed on 9 December 2021