Name to know: Paul Chowdhry
This comedian's gigs pack a punch, sometimes quite literally
If stand-up comedian Paul Chowdhry’s “anything goes” approach has got him into trouble, he won’t make a drama of it. (“No, I’ve never been arrested due to my delivery.”) Between us, he’s been physically attacked by hecklers at least twice, and critics have called his race, politics and mimicry filled shows controversial.
A quick cheat sheet to Chowdhry: he loves cheesy love songs from the ’80s. He imagines his alter ego to be a lot like Prince. And he’ll go with Drake’s ‘Worst Behavior’ to soundtrack his life. “It basically says, when people hate on you, it makes you stronger. Drake adds a lot of profanities to get his point across.”
Chowdhry began his career in 1998 somewhat eventfully. “A comedy club gave me five minutes at the end of a three-hour show. I just remember saying the words I’d rehearsed and people laughing. After the show, two men held up the club and attacked people. The police were called and I snuck out through the back. That’s when I knew I’d found my calling.”
He took “10 years to become an overnight success” with the DVD What’s Happening White People? (2012) – it promptly put him in the same bracket as Ricky Gervais and Billy Connolly. And ever since, he’s stayed at the top of the pecking order by ignoring a word of advice: “Years ago, a comedian told me I was too intimate with a big audience. Comedy is all about intimacy. I want everyone in the room to feel like I’m talking to them.”
Paul Chowdhry will perform a limited run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from July 30 to August 10. Paulchowdhry.com