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Monday, September 24, 2012
Comedian Paul Chowdhry likes to open his gigs by asking: “What’s up white people?” For his visit to the Playhouse, the literalness of this question seemed to leave him spooked for the whole show.
Despite its dissenting past Norwich is not one of the most outwardly diverse places in the UK. Many races live here, but the majority of the population is white. And that clearly threw Chowdhry.
He never quite settled in to the gig, and although he occasionally found his stride with longer passages of gags for the most part he seemed to be scraping around for inspiration. With much of his material focused on race and cultural difference, perhaps it wasn’t that surprising.
And perhaps a wet Monday evening didn’t put the audience in the best mood, but he didn’t find much respite from a crowd so taciturn that even asking if anyone had a phone met with silence. (Norwich crowds are a canny bunch: we’re not going to be tricked into laughing that easily.)
Despite all that this was still an oddly enjoyable evening: the blood he did manage to squeeze out of the audience banter was neatly handled and there were some decent jokes. It’s just sometimes the performer needs more stagecraft, and the audience needs to relax.