The sense that Nish Kumar’s time has come was unfortunately reinforced on the night of the EU referendum result, when a racist heckle at a prominent comedy club, urging the Croydon-born comic of Indian descent to go “home”, propelled him into an onstage emotional breakdown.
Star rating: ****
Venue: Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
Still, while feeling that patriotism is the first instinct of the terminally unimaginative as much as the last refuge of the scoundrel, Kumar truly loves Britain.
A David Bowie gig, one of several pilgrimages to see his musical idols, in which, unaccompanied, he publicly lost control of his mental faculties, is a reflection of his abiding affection for this island and its culture, reiterated when he desperately implores Scotland not to seek independence, if only for his self-preservation. All this made clear, along with his envy of the drummer from Coldplay’s mix of wealth, status and anonymity, he feels secure enough to lambast rich white men as the root historical cause of the nation’s ills. Eloquent and persuasive, he appreciates that he’s on safe ground bemoaning Boris Johnson’s casual retro-racism but offers a more daring, complex and penetrating analysis of the faultlines in Britain’s sense of itself, going amusingly out of his way, almost tying himself in knots, to make clear that he’s not criticising all white people, only the wealthy, entitled chaps.
As part of the so-called metropolitan elite he admits that he’s complicit in gentrification and even Australian racism, but his feelings about colonialism are necessarily ambivalent, as he guiltily acknowledges that he directly benefits from his ancestors’ oppression. An engaging combination of conviction and incredulity, Kumar skilfully frames his personal insecurities within broader overviews of the 2008 financial crash and Labour party infighting.
An increasingly articulate voice on current affairs, sadly for the nation’s bigots, he looks set to only become more prominent.