Comedy review: Ahir Shah: Control

editorial image
Share this article
Have your say

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Ahir Shah is angry. Boy, is he ever. He’s angry about Brexit, angry about the new authoritarianism and he’s so enraged about Trump that he can’t even bring himself to utter the name – it’s simply “HIM!” spat out with righteous venom.

Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire (Venue 338)


An hour of fury in lesser hands could prove wearing but Shah pitches his anger just right, he uses it as energy to fuel this frequently hilarious show and projects it all the way to the back of this standing room only gig. Even being shortlisted for the Edinburgh comedy awards hasn’t dulled Shah’s ire as one of “the metropolitan, liberal elite” (or as he puts it: “the three L’s – left, liberal and losing”).

There’s fierce intelligence here as Shah wrestles with the contradictions in his own character: a vegetarian who loves Nando’s and rails against globalisation (even though, as a middle-class young English guy of Indian descent he’s a perfect illustration of it). His old politics tutor voted to Leave the EU (“so there must be something to it”) but he struggles to engage with “the economic anxieties of people who shout ‘Paki!’ at me from passing cars”. This isn’t the shouty political polemic of Ben Elton and stops short of the Old Testament fury of Bill Hicks. Even Jeremy Corbyn takes a pasting (“hard to find an old picture of him without a terrorist,”) but, as Shah notes, if you’re going to listen to him go to town on the right for an hour you should be able to take a couple of minutes criticising the left.

It’s refreshing to encounter such informed, searingly angry political comedy these days and quite remarkable as part of the Free Fringe, but if you think for a moment you’re leaving this without paying, you’re wrong – you simply wouldn’t dare.

Until tomorrow. Today 2pm.