Nish Kumar: From Klute queues to centre stage

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Kumar is killing the comedy scene. From sold out nationwide tours to taking over TV with his very own ‘The Mash Report’, almost nothing is left untouched by Kumar, not even Klute.

“I can’t believe Klute is still standing”, he begins, “one year there was a mumps outbreak and the university advised us not to go to Klute,” fondly remembering it almost like a “weird petri dish that just incubated disease.”

While Nish Kumar might not be reliant on the Durham Degree on his CV in the same way most graduates are, Durham provided Kumar with the springboard to launch his successful career into comedy: “it completely hounded out a career for me.”

Kumar was involved in comedy throughout his time at Durham, performing gigs solo as well as a part of the Durham Revue comedy troupe and his double act ‘Gentlemen of Leisure’ with fellow Grey student Tom Neenan. On the Revue, Kumar fondly recalls he doesn’t know how he “would have got into comedy without it” adding that “even the impetus to do my first gig” came from fellow members Ed Gamble and Tom Damon, who “set up a stand-up night at Fish Tank and sort of forced me to perform.”

It wasn’t just understanding of the “infrastructure” of comedy that Nish developed at Durham, but the freedom to explore comedy as a career too. “One of the biggest things I’d say about uni” Kumar begins, “is just try everything you have some sort of long-standing ambition for, try it, and if you’re bad no one cares.” More than just delivering opportunities, therefore, Kumar stresses that the “point of university is to learn and experiment and push yourself.”

[blockquote author=”” ]”One of the biggest things I’d say about uni” Kumar begins, “is just try everything you have some sort of long-standing ambition for, try it, and if you’re bad no one cares.”[/blockquote]

Kumar’s interest in making people laugh, however, started much younger. Going into comedy, he says, was no surprise, coming “from a family where your sense of humour is prized above everything else”, his cousin summarising his choice to go into comedy as a career as having “simply monetized a personality defect.”

[blockquote author=”” ]Kumar’s cousin jokes his choice to go into comedy has “simply monetized a personality defect”[/blockquote]

Indeed, his satire and comedic take on the world around him was something he’s carried through life, saying he’s “always used my sense of humour to interpret the world around me.” It’s here that Kumar notes another strong inspiration and one that influenced his own comedic style: The Simpsons.

“I’m from a generation that was completely influenced by The Simpsons” to such an extent, he adds, that he doesn’t really have “a version of life without it.” Kumar seemed to take a lot more from The Simpsons than most of us, as it gave inspiration for the kind of comedy he wanted to write and perform. His goal, to create comedy “that interrogated issues and was able to be really funny but that’s not underplaying the seriousness of what’s going on.”

While the constant Political turmoil and the resulting abundance of news may seem ideal for a comedian such as Kumar, he highlights that it’s actually “a really tricky time to be doing comedy about the news” because really a lot of what is going on it is “absolutely appalling.”

Kumar takes Trump as an apt example. It is all too easy to take jibes at the President as a “ridiculous figure”, but Kumar stresses it’s important to write comedy that doesn’t “consolidate problems” or “prop up the status quo.” For Kumar, comedy is about interrogation, about striking a balance between the common “he said something silly!” while “remembering that this is an incredibly powerful man doing some genuinely awful things.”

Kumar is equally passionate about his “old friend” Brexit, a topic he’s keenly interrogated, seeing it plainly as “a terrible idea.” Discussing the “spicy situation” that is leaving the EU, Kumar doesn’t believe anything will change any time soon and isn’t set to get any milder: “I think we’ll be chopping green chili to add to the jalfrezi as we speak.”

[blockquote author=”” ]”I think we’ll be chopping green chili to add to the jalfrezi as we speak.”[/blockquote]

Kumar’s main criticism of Brexit is aimed at those delivering it: none of them “seem to have any clue what it involves,” Kumar begins, adding that the “ideologues behind it have absconded from any responsibility and are sitting on the back benches writing daily telegraph articles and presenting stupid LBC shows.”

The “two years of stasis” following the result has, Kumar argues, delivered little other than confusion, and the main issue is “we’re still lacking clarity.” He attributes this to the fact that the people tasked with delivering Brexit simply “don’t care.” “It was never about Brexit,” Kumar states. “It was always just about a weird consolidation of an imperial British wet dream.”

Kumar is currently on tour, and will be at Darlington on Satuday 29th, and Newcastle on Sunday 30th, more details of which can be found on his website here

Photograph courtesy of Nish Kumar

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