Anuvab Pal: Empire (4 stars)

This article is from 2018

Anuvab Pal: Empire

The absurdity of empire brilliantly exposed

British people don't like to talk about our nation's colonial past. We like to pretend it never happened and try to silence it into not existing. But Anuvab Pal is here to remind the UK that colonialism did happen and his perfect English accent is proof. Pal is one of India's top comedians and for his first visit to the UK he comes armed with a mischievous set that light-heartedly addresses the British empire from a Bengali's perspective.

Through his set he makes gags about his colonial Indian accent and cultural nuances that British people left behind such as coyness when it comes to sex. His jokes aren't just aimed at the Brits, though, with a lot of his hour focusing on self-deprecating humour about Indian cultural stereotypes too. His charming demeanour just about hides a cheeky wittiness that is ready to take anyone down.

As he predicts, when he makes more cutting jokes about the empire, the audience goes a bit quiet, not wanting to laugh at something so serious. However, by using humour to examine this subject it no longer allows us to refuse to confront it. This in itself is what is so brilliant about this set. Pal is smart, without getting furious or brutal, and he expertly uses humour to ambiguously show just how absurd the project of empire was.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug, 7pm, £11–£13 (£10–£12).

Anuvab Pal: Empire

  • 4 stars

Soho Theatre in associaton with Mick Perrin Worldwide Management The British Empire gave Anuvab a colonial accent and British values and suddenly left. Now he lives in contemporary India – a billion confident humans, fed on social media and American consumerism and way past their colonial hangover. How does a man still…