Familiar TV face, ideological lightning rod and sound geezer Nish Kumar is in the midst of a very long tour, titled Your Power, Your Control, which visits Brecon and Cardiff over Easter. Carl Marsh got some chat time with him ahead of that.
How’s it been thus far on your tour? Have there been any incidences of any random people throwing bread at you?
Nish Kumar: Amazingly, someone did throw a bread roll at me on the second gig of the tour as a tribute to the incident… which is very confusing, because some people know about that story and some people don’t. The show is written under the assumption that people don’t know what’s happened – so it wasn’t apparent to about a third of the audience when they did it!
It was immortalised because there were several from the national press that were in. I think the Times review, and maybe one other, actually references it. But yeah, it was a very funny incident. So, the only bread roll that was thrown at me was an act of love. A homage.
And with this tour, what’s its primary subject matter?
Nish Kumar: There’s this chunk about COVID at the top, and then the bulk of the show is dealing with this incident where somebody threw a bread roll at me. Sort of the circumstances of that happening and the fallout; and then a couple of the issues that it raised, both for me personally, and some problems that it raises about who gets to have an opinion about what is Britain, in 2022.
It must be a strange time to be a comedian in 2022, especially in Britain. As you know, with The Mash Report [satirical news show hosted by Kumar until late 2021], you can piss off Tory voters or whatever. And then you’ve had the BBC clamp down on particular politically themed shows. So with you being that comedian, associated with The Mash Report, you don’t know what you’re going to get from the odd audience member, do you?
Nish Kumar: I’d say in terms of touring, it’s not really so tricky. Once you’re touring – and this is my fourth national tour, I think – after a certain point, you’ve weeded out the people that are unlikely to pay, as they are the people that are unlikely to be onside. Even if somebody really hates you, they’re probably not going to spend [laughs] 20 quid to come and be angry in person. I think you negate that effort by having to get tickets to see somebody on tour – it puts people off who might otherwise.
So, broadly, we haven’t had any problems so far. Even the last tour I did, which was sort of right in the middle of the process of Brexit, and it being quite a febrile time. I mean, fingers crossed that will continue to be the case!
I’m always interested, though… sometimes, and especially on the last tour, I would occasionally get messages from people saying, “I didn’t pay to see this political nonsense”. And you’re like, “do you people not have Google? Are you guys Binging everything? What’s going on here? What’s happened? Why have you not done even the most cursory piece of research?”
Perhaps people have just gone out, turned up at the door, got tickets, and expected a Bernard Manning show…
Nish Kumar: Yeah, absolutely. It’s baffling to me. If you’re expecting Bernard Manning, I would have thought my name would be a huge indication that that might not be the case. [Laughter]
Nish Kumar, Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon, Sat 16 Apr. Tickets: £23/£20. Info: here; St David’s Hall, Cardiff, Sun 17 Apr. Tickets: £23. Info: here; Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan, Thurs 28 Apr. Tickets: £20. Info: here
words CARL MARSH
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