Comedy can help ease today’s pain: Nish Kumar talks ahead of Birmingham show
Nish Kumar has been dubbed one of Britain’s best new comics. And he is taking his show on a nationwide tour, with a headline at Birmingham’s Town Hall on Friday.
There will be jokes about politics, mankind’s capacity for self-destruction and whether it will lead to the end of days. Kumar is the host of the Mash Report and recently brought his live show to Shrewsbury and Oakengates.
Kumar believes comedy is the best medicine to the times in which we live. “It is an odd thing where you’re doing comedy and getting paid to comment on the collapse of western civilization.
“I would prefer it if the world wasn’t in the process of destroying itself – that would be my absolute preference.”
The stand-up comedian, actor and radio presenter has become a household name after hosting The Mash Report on BBC Two. He has also hosted BBC Radio 4 Extra’s topical comedy show Newsjack as well as appearing as a guest on Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week, Virtually Famous, Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled, Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central, Sweat the Small Stuff, QI, Live from the BBC and The Alternative Comedy Experience.
He made his debut with Tom Neenan as a double act, Gentlemen of Leisure, having met while students at the University of Durham, where he performed in the Durham Revue. His political views have led him to being invited on such shows as Question Time, though he feels like an interloper when sitting among full-time politicians.
“I’m an entertainer, I have no business being on the show. I feel underqualified to be on these shows but at the same time I feel a kind of burning need – particularly as a person of colour in the current climate in British political discourse – I feel a certain level of pressure to represent.”
Kumar is a double Edinburgh Comedy Award Nominee and his stand-up show is called It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves. “The audiences that come to see me have an expectation that I am not behind the curve. So it forces you to stay sharp and stay on top of things.”
Not that the show will run along similar lines to his BBC 2 hit. On the road, he has about 60 minutes of his 80-minute act hardwired into his brain. On TV, it’s very different. “What happens is, they’ll maybe run an idea past me but I only really get involved with a lot of the correspondent’s stuff on the day of the actual recording.
News features prominently in his live work, of course. “It’s a show about the news and I’m struggling to think of anyone who can put a positive vibe on that at the moment.
“I can’t remember the last time I got out of bed and didn’t immediately start thinking about Brexit. It’s at the forefront of my thoughts and it’s permanently worrying so I try and do comedy about these serious issues and make myself feel better by making jokes out of them.”