Nish Kumar: Tell all from Mash Report star comedian’s new show Your Power, Your Control

As the comedian comes to London, he explains what to expect from his latest stand-up.

Not many comedians get pelted with a bread roll over a skit about Brexit, and even fewer then write a show about it.

But in Nish Kumar’s Your Power, Your Control, which is coming to the Hackney Empire this weekend, the time he was on the receiving end of a bun hurled at him during a charity gig, features heavily in his new show.

Kumar was an undisputed rising star of the British stand-up scene after a series of highly-rated Edinburgh fringe shows.

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    He then hosted the controversial Mash Report on BBC Two - which ended up getting cancelled by the corporation - and has appeared on everything from Question Time to Sunday Brunch.

    After years of hard work, the comedian has placed himself firmly near the top of the country’s comedy pile.

    Nish Kumar is set to perform at the Hackney Empire over St George’s Day weekend - April 22-23 (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

    However, not everyone is a Kumar fan, and one punter decided it was a good idea to throw a roll at him during an ant-Brexit routine at the Lord’s Taverners Christmas Lunch in 2019.

    This gluten protest gave Kumar plenty to find humour in as he says: “I looked to my right and saw it rolling near me and I just had to say, ‘did someone throw a bread roll at me?’

    “There was a table of comedians there and I saw Tim Key’s face through the darkness - he was just nodding at me.

    “I think Chris Addison was having an argument with the bread thrower but the identity of that person remains unclear to me.”

    During his stand-up routine for Your Power, Your Control, the comedian places the incident into the context of his worst five gigs he’s ever had.

    Also on the list for Kumar, is the night during his Edinburgh Fringe debut in 2012, when a seat in his 50-seater room was taken by comedic icon Victoria Wood.

    Victoria Wood attends the British Comedy Awards in London in 2011. Picture: CARL COURT/AFP via Getty Images.

    Kumar recalls that the national treasure was not rolling in the aisles with laughter but also looked extremely displeased throughout his performance.

    “It’s like your nightmare day,” recalls Nish with a grimace.

    “I saw her when I walked on stage and in that venue she was too famous for all the attention in the room not to be fixated on her.

    “I’m not by any means in the pantheon of British culture and she is one of the most beloved comedians of all time, but if I go to a show and know I’m very visible, I definitely do my best to make sure that it looks like I’m having a good time.”

    The comedian is keen at this point to emphasise that he has long adored and still fully respects the comedic icon.

    “If you look at Acorn Antiques there’s something of the Garth Marenghi about it,” he says.

    “But then you look at Dinnerladies, and everyone – my parents, my grandparents – we all loved it.

    “So obviously her having a bad time at my gig is a low career point for me.”

    Despite Your Power, Your Control highlighting people who have not been admirers of Kumar’s comedy, the many thousands of fans who have bought tickets for this tour will attest to the fact that the comedian is widely admired.

    Nish Kumar with his Mash Report co-star Rachel Parris (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

    The stand-up has sharp political commentary and uses his fierce intelligence to his advantage

    Bringing these two traits together for a solid sense of fun, which is evidenced in his routine when Kumar pokes a metaphorical pointy stick straight down the gullet of the national anthem.

    We’re not going to reveal exactly how this unfolds other than to say that it’s the closest Kumar has come to the confrontational tactics of Steward Lee, where a repeated phrase or gesture carries on for quite a long time.

    “It has got longer every night [in his work-in-progress shows] because it’s as much fun as I’ve ever had on stage,” he says.

    “But I don’t have the stones or iron will of Stewart Lee. That man has balls of steel and he would just keep going with it.”

    When talking about the title Your Power, Your Control, it’s important to note the relative brevity from a man whose show-names have previously included  Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Unless You Shout The Words Real Loud, and Long Word… Long Word… Blah Blah Blah… I’m So Clever.

    “The long-winded title is my metier, that’s my brand,” Nish confesses.

    “I did have more long-winded titles in mind but there was a lightbulb moment where I thought yes, that’s it.

    “My therapist used the phrase when he said to me ‘you’ve got to focus on what’s in your power and in your control’, and I thought ‘that’s a good title for something’.

    “The phrase occurs in the show in its entirety and I thought it would be nice to have a title from a phrase that does pop up in the show at some point.

    “I think Power, Corruption And Lies would have been good, but New Order had already taken that.”

    Nish Kumar is bringing his new show to Hackney Empire on April 22 to 23.

    Tickets are now on sale on Nish Kumar’s website.