NEWS: Rahul Kohli @ The Stand | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Rahul Kohli brings his show Newcastle Brown Male to The Stand, Newcastle on Monday 29th February. We caught up with him for a chat about the show, comedy and much more.

So Rahul, you’re bringing your show Newcastle Brown Male to The Stand, tell us about the show?
It’s very political, it strays from picking sides, but I wanted to talk about the biggest issues within the state of the World, so it ranges from Geordies topics like the meaning of the word radge; to David Cameron, the refugee crisis, the EU referendum, radicalisation, Islamaphobia all the way to the simplest of topics like my experiences working in my dad’s corner shop in Heaton.

Why did you choose The Stand to put on the show?
C’mon, the real question is why anywhere else? I applied, they gave it to me. I did my third gig in the Edinburgh Stand so to take a full hour there is a dream come true for me.

How have other performances of the show been?
Amazing. Great responses, great reviews, a sell out at the Museum of Comedy and both dates a sell out at the Leicester Comedy Festival. With The Stand, Middlesbrough, Brighton and this year’s Edinburgh potentially to come, I am so so excited to see where the show goes.

You performed it at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, how was that?
Amazing. the crowds loved it which is the main thing, but crowds can love you at Edinburgh and your show can still not materialise into anything else. Luckily this year, that wasn’t the case for me. I had some great reviews. Four stars off Broadway Baby who said “Real art… strong punchline after strong punchline… comedy needs more Rahul Kohlis” and four and a half stars off Edinburgh Students Arts Review and a BBC scout was in attendance this year which got me my television debut on the BBC Big Asian Comedy Night.

You’ve moved to Manchester recently, what’s the differences between that scene and the North East comedy scene?
Unfortunately I have to say Manchester is better if just for location alone. It’s so much easier to get everywhere else. There was a period in my life I was taking a day off work. Getting up at 6am, getting a 7.30am megabus to London. Arriving at 3pm. Have some food, wait around, head to the gig. Do a 5 minute competition gig. Leave before the gig even finishes, and don’t find out if I go through. Megabus back to Newcastle at 10.30pm. Arrive at Newcastle 4.30am. Get home from the centre 5am, up at 9am for work the next day. In Manchester I can afford the £25 train there and back, and 2 hours is a lot less than 7.
As for the scene itself, I’d probably say Manchester just edges it. There are a lot of independent nights: Deadcat, Trapdoor, and more in Greater Manchester in Preston. There’s also two main comedy clubs as opposed to one: The Frog and Bucket and The Comedy Store, and a number of open mics. The scene in Newcastle is amazing though and isn’t far off. It has The Stand, Long Live Comedy, and a whole load of other independents including Freshly Ground Comedy and more. One issue where Newcastle is better than Manchester is Red Raw at The Stand. To get in with one of the clubs here, you have to go through a gong show which can be intimidating and not ideal for some acts, in The Stand you get your full 5 minutes to prove yourself, the only problem being is there is usually a 6 month waiting list, but with Manchester being a bigger city, there is just marginally more opportunity there.

I have a lot of life experience, but if I was to talk about my life experience, it’s subject matter that has been done time and time again by comics both far better and far worse than me.

What influences your comedy most?
Current affairs really. I have a lot of life experience, but if I was to talk about my life experience, it’s subject matter that has been done time and time again by comics both far better and far worse than me. I’m a 24 year old lad from Newcastle who wears skinny jeans, uses tinder and has a silly haircut. I spent my teenage years getting drunk, and my adult years trying to figure out how to get drunk while how to get by. My immigrant father owned a corner shop and drove busses.
Have you heard of many young lads talking about getting drunk in their skinny jeans? Have you heard of many Asians talking about corner shops and bus drivers?
Oh you have? Foreign Policy and Kanye West it is then.

How did you get started in comedy?
Just being shite man. A year away from graduating. No job lined up, no transferable skills and a penchant to fuck up the most basic task. The only skills I had was telling a story, and making people laugh. Decided to give stand-up a go as I saw absolutely no hope for my future. Seriously it was like when Frodo looks into Galadriels bowl that can predict the future in the Lord of the Rings, and sees his house burning down and all his pals getting whipped by orcs; that’s how I felt about my future. I gave stand-up a go while I was working in London during the 2012 Olympics. It was at the Cavendish Arms, Stockwell and it went really well. I kept up with it, and it’s been a long road of ups and downs, but the trajectory on the whole has been upwards.

What’s your most memorable gig?
BBC Big Asian Comedy Night. Just everything about it. Performing the BBC at the Fringe Festival, performing to 350 people, sharing a green room with Franz Ferdinand, getting on TV, getting on me mams favourite radio show, the aftermath of my parents seeing it. Even if it all fails, and my comedy withers and dies to nothing, that can’t be taken away from me.

Keep your riches, keep your fame, if I get to the point where I can pay my way off of just circuit comedy, I’d be over the moon.

Where do you want to take your comedy?
Where I want to take it is the full shabang. I’m talking host of the Daily Show, win an Oscar for a comic movie, and an Emmy and a fucking grammy. I don’t even play any music, but fuck it, why not? Following all that success, I’ll sort the economy and bring World Peace, and bring the prices of Virgin East Coast down, the bastards.
Where I’d be happy taking it however is a completely different question, as we have to manage our expectations. Keep your riches, keep your fame, if I get to the point where I can pay my way off of just circuit comedy, I’d be over the moon.

Any favourite acts you’ve enjoyed over the last twelve months we should look out for?
Tom Short is the most original act I’ve seen on the circuit. He’s a surreal genius.
John Whale is going to be supporting me at the show. I am a huge fan of his, he’s a political mastermind.
Alex Hylton is also a superstar in the making. His attention to the craft and passion for the artform is seconded by none I’ve seen.

What have been your comedy career highlights so far?
The BBC gig as I say, The Stand weekends have also been a delight. I got to gig with Tom Stade not too long ago at The Stand which was a highlight. Being able to share the stage with someone I’ve favoured on stage before I even got on stage was surreal. It just kind of summarized how far I’d come. The Fringe festivals I’ve done have been magnificent, as has selling out both dates in Leicester. Here and in London I have friends and networks which makes selling tickets a bit easier. Down there though, I have nobody so it’s nice to know the works not going to nothing and my name is getting out there.
Soon I’m doing a trial at the Comedy Store on a Friday night. After watching Comedy Central at the Comedy Store when I was 15, it’s just another achievement I feel genuine pride at reaching. I have no willpower, I thought I would’ve give up and got a job in marketing years ago.
I have to shout out all the shitty open mics I’ve done too. Driving halfway across the country. A six hour return journey with a car full of comics, £60 spent on petrol all to gig to two people who don’t really want to be there, eventually realising five minutes in, one of the two audience members is an act, and the other is his girlfriend was always a laugh. It was enduring, painful and awful, but it was still a hoot. A car full of comics, and absolute failure of a gig is a recipe for hilarity. And even when it’s shit, I’ve always seen my comedy journey as a movie, and you still enjoy movies when the protagonist comes up against adversity.

And finally, what’s the rest of 2016 got in store for you?
I cancelled a big TV project on ITV2 as it pushed me away from comedy and more towards reality stuff thinking this year was gonna be big for me. I think I’ve fucked up because there’s not been too much since then, haha. I do have the Comedy Store trial, a Frog and Bucket Trial, some bigger gigs at The Stand, this upcoming show, the Brighton Fringe and potentially Edinburgh so I’m still pretty excited regardless. We’ll see what happens as the year goes on.

Rahul Kohli brings his show Newcastle Brown Male to The Stand, Newcastle on Monday 29th February.

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