This is a big year for Nish Kumar. We know this because it’s one of the first things he tells us. It’s the 10th anniversary of his stand-up career and the summer of his 30th birthday. If these facts create high expectation, happily Kumar’s routine lives up to it, providing an hour of ridiculously clever jokes, funny political rants, and self-aware storytelling.
Self-awareness is an asset rather than a hindrance and Kumar is living evidence of his own adamant claim that political correctness has not killed comedy.
The title parodies Kumar’s wordy 2014 show Ruminations on the Nature of Subjectivity, but the two are similarly vague, allowing him the freedom to cover a range of material, from children’s board games to race and the arts, without being tied to a stringent theme. Even still, these wildly various subjects all point to a central concern: what it means to be a left-wing comedian. Kumar’s mind is a sensitive political weather-vane, but the tone is light and never berating. His political comedy blends concrete, everyday anecdotes (such as his horrific experience with the NHS 111 service) and analysis of big issues such as ISIS and global warming.
One of Kumar’s funniest skits unpicks the rules of Monopoly, a world where you can pay to get out of prison. The game is hilariously reassessed as a propagator of financial crime. He then moves on to the controversy surrounding the possibility of a black James Bond.
Kumar often does the reviewer’s job, deconstructing his show at every opportunity. Many jokes are accompanied by an epilogue on how it went down on previous occasions, or how he had expected it to go down. This mainly just forms part of his – and indeed any stand-up’s – natural flow, but occasionally Kumar’s self-aware monologues seem to be inserted impulsively, rather than for a genuinely hilarious pay-off.
Mostly, however, the self-awareness is an asset rather than a hindrance and Kumar is living evidence of his own adamant claim that political correctness has not killed comedy.