THE Indian comedian returned to the Soho Theatre in central London after a month long run at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. At the beginning of his show, he made the interesting revelation that it was hard to draw roaring laughter from British audiences, even when they were appreciative of a show.
As his stand-up show progressed it was sadly apparent why that was the case, despite a spirited effort to make a comical connection.
The show started off strongly with sharp observations, including a great section about India being on the lower end of the happiness index and how they, in a way, learned to enjoy being miserable. There was a funny bit on real life news stories in India, including an entire bridge being stolen in Bihar and one that led to a great joke about laughing gas.
Instead of hitting a higher gear in the second half, which is what most top stand-up comedians do, Verma took a deep dive into a story revolving around a YouTube video he had once done, which went viral and almost got him into trouble with hard right politicians.
The long-drawn-out story had a few moments of laughter but seemed never-ending and rolled around towards an unsatisfactory conclusion. The laughter levels went noticeably down as the story progressed. Unlike more seasoned comics, he missed great opportunities for jokes throughout the hour long set. Latecomers were not given the usual roasting, many opportunities were missed for political jokes and the personal stories didn’t go deep enough to be revelatory, relatable or a high level of hilarious.
A likeable persona and decent stage presence kept an audience, who clearly wanted him to do well, engaged, but they weren’t really left wanting more as the early momentum slowly petered out.