Edinburgh Fringe Review: Ahir Shah, Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire

Update 23/8/17: Ahir Shah has been nominated for a lastminute.com Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Show. See nominees here.

Given the current state of the nation it is surprising there is not more political comedy on the Fringe.

But the new generation has an eloquent exponent with Ahir Shah, a protégé of Soho Theatre who is performing on the Free Fringe.

Shah is an angry liberal, in fact by the climax of the show he is furious. He takes Brexit as his starting point and builds a literate, persuasive argument against extremist views, which builds into a tirade against allowing racism and intolerance to take hold in society.

Shah is a university-educated child of Indian parents who is tremendously clear about how he is a child of history. An atheist, he refused to vote Labour in the election because of its recurrent struggle with anti-Semitism, which shows a thoughtful and principled approach to politics. And like many intelligent young people he despairs of what passes for discussion on social media.

What lets his argument down, unfortunately, is the recurring image of spoiled milk. You shouldn’t go back to milk in the fridge once it has gone off – fair enough. Drinking milk which has gone off is like sleeping with someone you don’t really fancy for a second time – er – no, not so much. 

His show builds to a crescendo of overwhelming righteous fury, with Shah justifiably raging against people who show an ignorance of their own history when they insist it is time to “get their country back”. 

Shah is clever, confident and passionate about his politics. But he’s not as emotionally intelligent as he should be.

Ahir Shah: Control is at Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire until August 27. Info here.


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