Live Review: Ahir Shah, Soho Theatre

This review first appeared in the London Evening Standard here.

Ahir Shah is currently on tour. Dates here.


Ahir Shah has been a political comic to watch for a few years now and at 26 he has broken through with his latest show, Control. It picked up a Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination for best show in August and marks him out as a passionate, persuasive performer, as much soap-box orator as stand-up comedian.

He certainly lets rip on Brexit, explaining that he is “left, liberal and losing” before comparing the country’s current predicament to walking headlong into a lamp-post and trying to style it out. Elsewhere his referendum material is less original: his “single market” routine about splitting with his girlfriend barely breaks new ground.

When he tackles race he hits his stride. As the son of Asian immigrants his perspective is hardly unique, but what he lacks in humour he makes up for in righteous anger. His thesis is that history has a horrible habit of repeating itself and, noting our colonial past, Britain has previous when it comes to intolerance. Except today there is added stupidity. Take the trolls who accuse him, an atheist, of wanting to introduce sharia law.

This set boasts drama as well as laughs — Shah drops to the stage, grabs fans’ hands like an ageing crooner and employs Pinteresque pauses. He is not always funny and sometimes too ranty, yet undeniably heartfelt. Maybe not quite the finished article, but Control confirms that Shah is firmly on his way to becoming an important, potent voice.




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