Nish Kumar is ready to embark on his first-ever UK tour, taking in the Hawth Studio, Crawley, on November 29 (01293 553636) with Long Word… Long Word… Blah Blah Blah… I’m So Clever.
The show is his fourth Edinburgh success, and he’s also brought the previous three to Brighton.
“I have been agitating for a tour for a while, but I felt it wasn’t the right time until now. I think really it was a question of raising my profile sufficiently to sell tickets, and I am very excited about it. But I have got very low expectations! I would be delighted if anybody came to see me. It’s a very big step when people are coming out just to see you. It’s very flattering.
“But in terms of the actual show, the prep is already done. It’s going to be ready having put it through Edinburgh for a month. It’s just a question of the physical conditioning, actually standing up there for two hours. But I think I am going to be ready.
“If you can do Edinburgh, you know it should work. It’s the best place. It’s like a boot camp for a show. You have got the relentless scrutiny of doing it every single day for 25 days, and it does change during that time. It gets refined.”
Some sections you thought were the stronger might turn out to the weaker ones; conversely the bits you considered the weaknesses might turn out to the strengths. Edinburgh is a great way to find out.
And then you hit the road with what Nish calls “contrived spontaneity”:, delivering something that’s honed but also appears handpicked for the audience in front of you: “But the truth is that each show is actually different anyway. There will always been little variances like the hall or like the audience itself. People will react in different ways, and you respond.”
This is what Nish has been training for from day one: “You do the open-mic circuit, and you just don’t know what is going to happen. You go in and the audience might not even be facing the right way or the amplification doesn’t work. You have to get used to it. That’s part of the training, the fact you can turn up and then play the most unplayable rooms. It’s incredibly easy to stage a comedy open-mic night, but you just wouldn’t believe how badly wrong people get it!
“I did four or five years on the circuit. It’s the only way into comedy. It’s the best way. You moan about the hardships, but eventually they become your greatest assets. It really toughens you up.”
Long Word… Long Word… Blah Blah Blah… I’m So Clever recently won Best International Show at the New Zealand Comedy Festival. In it, Nish asks: does comedy need to be politically neutral? Why is comedy leaning to the left and is that even a problem?
As he says, he examines the changing political landscape and how we’ve become more liberal in our outlook on social issues, but increasingly conservative economically.
He looks at a world in which a black James Bond seems achievable, but at the same time our financial system seems to be based entirely on the game Monopoly.
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