Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Ahir Shah: Machines

By | Published on Monday 3 October 2016


Ahir Shah “wants to believe that optimism, ambition and hope will take us to an open, tolerant, liberated future; however, after witnessing the global rise of the far-right and finding himself caught up in the Paris attacks, he’s got a lot of concerns.” Fortunately, his latest set ‘Machines’, while dealing with the aforementioned themes, also promises to be funny.
The show, which had a successful run up in Edinburgh this summer, is on at the Soho Theatre this week. I put some questions to him ahead of his London run.

CM: Tell us about ‘Machines’- does the show have an overriding theme? What topics can we expect you to cover?
AS: It’s about the present-day tussle between the world that could be, and the resurgent worst of what was. The gag rate is surprisingly high.

CM: How would you characterise your comedy? Is it political, above all?
AS: I guess, though in a political philosophy/social theory way as opposed to the current affairs/topical way. Fewer impressions, more anguish.

CM: When you talk about politics, is your aim to enlighten as well as to amuse? Would you consider yourself an activist?
AS: I doubt I’m providing any real enlightenment, but hopefully it’s the kind of comedy one doesn’t entirely leave at the door upon exiting the venue. I’m a terrible activist. My causes keep failing.

CM: I know that one of the things you talk about in the show is Donald Trump – are you following the US election closely? How do you think it will pan out?
AS: I believe Clinton will win but only because the thought of anything else makes me want simultaneously to cry and vomit.

CM: This show had a successful run at the Edinburgh Festival this summer. What keeps you going back there, and what do you like about it?
AS: I’ve nothing else on.

CM: You’ve done quite a lot of TV bits as well as your live shows – what do you find the most satisfying?
AS: Live shows, without question.

CM: You’ve also done quite a bit of comedy writing – for the likes of ‘Skins’ and ‘The News Quiz’ – how did these opportunities come about? Is sitting down and writing as fun as stand up?
AS: It’s pretty dull, but it’s a day out, innit.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about what drew you to your career in comedy? Did you aspire to this as a child?
AS: At the age of 4 I found a magazine full of Edinburgh Fringe reviews in a hedgerow. I saw how year-long artistic endeavours could be wilfully misconstrued by tedious undergraduates with an axe to grind. I tugged the hem of my mother’s dress and said, “Ma, I want to do that”.

CM: Who or what influences and/or inspires your comedy?
AS: Tragedy. Recent months have been quite a boon.

CM: What unfulfilled ambitions do you have?
AS: I want to die on Mars. The “on Mars” part is negotiable.

CM: What’s coming up next for you?
AS: Lunch.

Ahir Shah performs ‘Machines’ at Soho Theatre until 8 Oct, see this page here for more info.

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