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Venue:Cabaret Voltaire, 36-38 Blair Street Edinburgh EH1 1QR
Phone: 0131 247 4704
Links: Click Here for venue details, Click here for map
Ticket Prices: Free  
Room: Main Room
AUG 2-26 at 14:15 (60 min)
Show Image

Ahir Shah returns to Edinburgh with a new hour of stand-up about life and what comes after, death and what comes before, and Bohemian Rhapsody. Shah's last show, Control, enjoyed a critically acclaimed Fringe run, culminating in a nomination for Best Show at the 2017 Edinburgh Comedy Awards. This was followed by a UK tour, including three weeks at London's Soho Theatre. 'One of his generation’s most eloquent comic voices' **** (Telegraph). 'A scope and wit about him that is exciting to behold' **** (Times). 'Ratchets up the dismay to thermonuclear levels' **** (Guardian). **** (Sunday Times).

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News and Reviews for this Show

August 26, 2018  The Daily Mail
27, north Londoner Ahir Shah is building impressively on last year’s Edinburgh Newcomer nomination. Duffer is a powerful account of his nan’s deportation to India in the Nineties, intersected with his own mental-health struggles. It’s a highly personal howl in the dark from this sharpest of operators. Impassioned, probing and unexpectedly moving. Click Here

August 26, 2018  Hammy's Comedy Reviews

As a note for anyone planning to catch Ahir Shah at somepoint during the Fringe, I arrived about 35 minutes before the show started and only just managed to get in, so make sure you arrive early. His popularity is certainly justified and he follows last year’s excellent show with one that may even be slightly better.

This is a show about family, about where we come from and what happens when we are reunited. There is tragedy sprinkled throughout the show and these are the bits that he performs like no one else, leaving them hanging there, with the audience still rocked even after he decides to break the tension with a joke. It ties together themes of Windrush, people being forced apart and what it can do to someone’s mental health. It’s not all serious and there are lots of huge laughs throughout, coupled with his incredible charisma.

Show’s about break ups have always been a popular format for Fringe shows and this does something similar, but a wee bit different, something even more relatable, that’s less about little foibles but about something much more universal… and about Bohemian Rhapsody. Click Here

August 26, 2018  The Telegraph
Last year, Ahir Shah was nominated for comedy's top award with Control, an hour of blistering political stand-up. He’s on the list again for Duffer, but go in expecting more of the same and you’ll be wrongfooted. That show thrilled the intellect; this one speaks to the heart.

It is in every way a more mature and accomplished outing: intricately crafted, profoundly moving, howlingly funny. Of the 60-plus comedy shows I have seen at this Fringe, it’s the only one that has reduced me to tears. Duffer is free and unticketed, but the buzz around it means you’ll have to arrive an hour early to queue for a seat. If you’d rather not, two paid dates have been added at the Underbelly. However you see it, make sure you do.

At 27, Shah is no longer last year’s know-it-all firebrand, angrily setting the world to rights. Here he reveals his vulnerable side as he tells us about visiting his beloved Indian grandmother, now on her deathbed, who was deported from the UK when he was five years old. It’s a tale that deftly keeps the personal and the political in balance, strung together by – bizarrely – a joke about the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody.

... Click Here

August 25, 2018  The List
A magnificent hour about politics, family and a 1970s classic hit.

You could never accuse Ahir Shah of lacking commitment to a routine. In Duffer, his running 'Bohemian Rhapsody' gag journeys from him recalling his father being falsely awestruck at his little boy's prodigious prose efforts, all the way through to the bucket speech, and dotted throughout mainly to relieve a packed audience from the many tense moments Shah inserts into his latest Fringe triumph.

After hopping from one Fringe venue to another for several years, Shah seems to have found his permanent mojo in the Cabaret Voltaire's largest room, producing a hat-trick of top-notch hours in this long, cavernous space. Arguably, Duffer is his most personal show to date, while never losing the undercurrent of pin-sharp social and political analyses that has helped keep him ahead of the pack.

Often seemingly breathless from the vital task of getting his carefully crafted sentences out into the air, he frequently leans in and allows his eyes to dart around the room, drawing the crowd into his conspiratorial (or downright cheeky) world. But the beating heart of this magnificent hour evolves around his octogenarian grandmother, a woman he has looked up to throughout his entire life while being perfectly able to spot her flaws; she also acts as the moving source of his show's title.

A couple of things have happened to Shah in the last 12 months that seem to have subtly altered his viewpoint. He's set aside the anti-depressants to experience August in a whole new light and he's even considering whether some sort of religious belief might actually be an avenue open to him after a lifetime of secularised dissent. Whatever it is that has driven him on to produce Duffer, he needs to bottle it and fast. Click Here

August 22, 2018 Chortle
Free Festival Show Nominated as BEST COMEDY in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards
The nominees have been announced for this years Edinburgh Comedy Awards, and these include AHIR SHAH, who's Free Festival show DUFFER is at Cabaret Voltaire, 2.15pm each day Click Here

August 20, 2018  Chortle

Goodness me. Ahir Shah has returned to Edinburgh with a super-powered hour of standup, a clear step up from his 2017 show which was nominated for Best Show (just saying).

The backdrop to Duffer is the Windrush scandal from earlier this year. This was no one-off, as Shah describes how his paternal grandmother was deported 25 years ago back to India, treated like an inconvenient statistic more than a human being, in precisely the way the Windrush generation have been today. Duffer is what she used to call young Ahir.

Last year, Shah visited his gran for the first time since she was unceremoniously booted out of Britain. He knew it would also be the last time he would ever see her. As a piece of contemporaneous comedy, examining the effects of cruel and unnecessary policy, it cuts right to the bone. It would be nice if a few Conservative Ministers dropped in to watch it.

... Click Here

August 16, 2018  The Skinny
Duffer. Clown. Fool. That’s what Ahir Shah was to his grandmother, and that’s just what he is in front of the heaving room in Cabaret Voltaire. At 27, Shah is an incredibly accomplished stand-up, touching on several huge issues including race, religion and mental health, but never feeling like he does them a disservice as he deftly skips from one to another with ease. All somehow chart the journey of his grandmother from India to Wembley and back again, and Shah’s final visit to see her in late 2017.

It’s a much more personal affair than his previous out-and-out political work, but Shah’s acute talent shows he can turn his hand to the comedy of compassion too. His vulnerability at discussing something so personal onstage gives rise to stirring segments about the Windrush scandal and euthanasia but they’re held tightly either side by his impeccably written relief and the fantastic Bohemian Rhapsody gag that bubbles to the surface throughout the hour.

It’s a show that really connects: Duffer is accessible, tender and considerably less guilt-inducing than similarly passionate and rousing Edinburgh shows. Click Here

August 15, 2018  The Guardian
Ahir Shah made his name – and secured a 2017 Edinburgh comedy award nomination – with polemical standup about the disintegrating state of the world. This year’s set, Duffer, tries something different. It’s about his grandmother, who was deported from the UK – and from Shah’s family home – when he was five, and whom he met for the first time in 22 years on a recent trip to Gujarat. It’s a show with lots to recommend it, even if Shah’s style probably lends itself better to political than emotional comedy.

There is a political dimension to Duffer, mind you: Shah uses his gran’s enforced exile from Britain to make strident points about immigration policy. But mainly this is a personal set, about his ethnicity – there’s a gleeful opening routine about British Indians’ secret success (“Jews are taking a lot of our heat!”) – his struggles with depression, and the tug on this atheist millennial of his ancestral religion.

The title derives from the Hindi word for fool or clown: his gran’s pet name for him as an infant. After she is deported, and an uncle kills himself, Shah recounts his difficulties coping with both his personal life and the overwhelming negativity of the daily news. Things get grimmer when a standup tour takes him to India, where his grandmother’s poor health forces him to consider euthanasia.

At times, I doubted whether Shah really finds much humour in these subjects. You can hardly blame him, but the jokes – often excellent on paper – aren’t animated by much spirit of fun. His political diatribes, and some poetic philosophising, feel like they are where his heart lies – even if they generate silence or applause rather than laughter.

But there remains much to enjoy, or be impressed by, in Duffer. A staged dialogue between Shah and religion drolly itemises the consolations of blind faith. There’s a running joke about Bohemian Rhapsody that keeps on giving. You can’t help but admire the volume of difficult material Shah unfolds here – about race, mental health, mortality – even if its transformation into comedy is, by his own high standards, imperfectly realised. Click Here

August 11, 2018  Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
If the Comedy Awards at Edinburgh have taught us anything over the last few years, it’s that emotionally weighted shows take the spotlight.
They’re the ones that tend to stay with audience members and critics alike, long after the house lights have harshly blinded us and we’ve been swiftly booted to the kerb outside.

If the 300 strong queue for a 100 capacity venue was anything to go by, Ahir Shah’s latest Fringe show has already got people talking. With rave reviews and no ticket fees, plus the added accolade of being mere fingertips away from winning last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award, Fringe-goers needed no further nudges to get along to Duffer.

The show itself manages to navigate between family ties, stone age immigration laws and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody seamlessly (the third element adding some welcome light relief throughout). Somewhat similar in style to Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, Shah invites you in to the seemingly safe room of the joke before closing the door and delivering an unexpected gut-punch a few moments later. Duffer continues down this path for the hour and it’s clear it’s taking everything out of the performer, particularly when recounting the tale of a John Major-led Conservative government deporting his dementia suffering, widowed grandmother back to India when he was 5 years old. Unless you’ve just had concrete mix in your protein shake, or you are John Major, chances are you’ll be close to tears at this point.

Shows like this are a bit like an open shower curtain for the performer and in Duffer, there’s really not much left to the audience’s imagination. It would be naive and unfair to label this a “look at me, I’m sad” show. It’s so much more than that. Not only does it showcase a performer at the top of his game opening up to reveal his rawest emotions, but Shah also somehow manages to keep the jokes – and the Bohemian Rhapsody references – flowing with ease. If this isn’t award-winning material, I don’t know what is. Click Here

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