Performer: Rahul Kohli Photograph by: Lalit Sood Show 1: Newcastle Brown Tales Part II at Laughing Horse @ Hanover Tap Show 2: All My Heroes Are Dead, in Jail, or Touched Up Your Gran… at The Stand Comedy Club 4 Promoter: Indie Online: Facebook Website
Tell me about your Edinburgh shows.
Newcastle Brown Tales part II is the natural follow up to Newcastle Brown Tales which when originally written, there was no intention of a sequel. But after chatting with my director and looking at how many stories had been left out: we decided we could turn it into a trilogy. Turning it into such has lead me to rewrite the first, which will be out for download soon, but the long and short of it is the first is a selection of true stories from my childhood & teenage years centred around my my best pal, and all round conman and drug peddler: Spekky Rizwan including stories such as how I got pissed on by a tiger, how I joined a Romani Gypsy Gang, and how I nearly got killed by a firebreathing dragon (all true remember)… Newcastle Brown Tales Part II is a selection of true stories from my short yet eventful adulthoood. Rizwan landed himself in a spot of bother around about the time I turned 21, and that forced me to reflect on my own mortality. It’s an hour of brand new stupid tales but from a more adult perspective, including: accidentally befriending a paedophile, how I communicated with the dead via fb messenger, and being horribly rejected by a potential partner to the point I sympathise with incels (It’s a joke, I don’t sympathise with incels, but this rejection was a very special kind of evil!)
All My Heroes Are Dead, in Jail or Touched Up Your Gran is about all of my own, and many people’s heroes being exposed as racists, sex pests or paedophiles and how the internet, and the infiniteness of opinion has shaped this climate: Louis, Bill, Aziz, Morgan, Gazza, Hulk Hogan, R Kelly, Malcolm X, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, they’re all lost prophets. It’s an evaluation of the society we live in against who we really are as human beings? Has humanity always been an absolute bag of shite since the big bang? Or has social media lead to societies standards changing exponentially to the point where humanity can’t handle it?
Tell me about your first gig.
One of my favourites I’ve done to this day and why I’ll always defend Bringers. Cavendish Arms: Comedy Virgins Heat, I didn’t get through, but a full room laughing at all my jokes, I certainly caught the bug. It didn’t help that the second gig I did was the Stand Edinburgh. I thought if this is what comedy’s like, I could do this forever for free. Then my third gig I travelled all the way to Hastings to gig just to a promoter. I told my jokes, as he sat and grinned nodding in his chair…like some weird sort of comedy lap dance. He promised me paid work after… I never got that paid work but that’s was my proper introduction to comedy.
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
I look round the room, try and read the audience, and see what type of comedy they might want. Basically, I walk round the room and be racist, sexist and judge people on how they look off of base stereotypes I have in my head then tailor my comedy to my lazy stereotypes.
That and stretches. I find yoga really great for getting rid of unconscious stress and stretching before a gig helps get rid of those little lingering unconscious nerves and makes you feel a bit more free and in the moment on stage.
Tell me about your best and worst review.
Best: my first review from Broadway Baby for Newcastle Brown Male. When I started at Edinburgh I was informed the big 5 were: Broadway Baby, the Skinny, Fest mag, Threeweeks and something else. 6 Edinbugh’s later I now realise most reviews mean fuck all in the long run (no disrespect). However getting a review from one of what I considered the big 5 that defined me as ‘not just doing comedy for laughs, but attempting to create real art’ that got a 4* review really made me feel special and like I had an actual future in this game.
Worst: my review for my second 45 min I did called ‘Rauls Are Meant to be Broken’. The room loved it so I thought I was gonna get a smashing review, but I got 2* and the quote ‘the worst comedy I’ve ever seen if it can be called that. More polemic and toilet humour dressed up as comedy… after all what is funny about terrorism and child abuse.’ Eventually they took it down as I kept tagging the quote once I got a bit more confident and had won awards and built a career and lots of press quotes out this shit. In fairness, the show was shite, but his critique was off. I think he was a theatre reviewer… but I would have loved to have seen this guy review: Jim Jeffries, Anthony Jeselnik, Frankie Boyle or any comedy roast at all.
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
I have done every year. I may go on a Buddhist flex and just enjoy the fest and try not to deal with that side of things, but I’m probably too impatient. Furthermore they can be useful for rewriting (sometimes, not all times: I’m not dropping the terrorist or child abuse jokes).
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
It is what it is. We all got jobs. If I jump on someone in the public eye and rip them apart for whatever, I can’t resent someone ripping me for being a shit comedian. Free speech & all that shit. Besides: if you can’t take the bad, you have no right to the reviews that laud over you.
In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?
Fuck that dude, fuck freedom of speech and fuck you for wasting our energy on this shit. Look. I seen the video. Was fucking funny. I’d like to see more of that shit. Maybe pugs doing ISIS beheadings when someone behind camera says allahu akbar, or maybe a pug barking at a black person when the recording of ‘hutus/cockroaches’ clip from Rwanda plays.
Was it a crime? If it happened on its own of course not, but shit don’t happen in vacuums. Shit happens in the World, and within this country of which we are part of and of which we face constraints, responsibilities and rights, and upon which the context of history matters. I wasn’t in court. I wasn’t on jury, I wasn’t the judge, I don’t have full facts: I have as many snippets of information’s as I’ve taken from various papers, podcasts, other news reports, and whiny fucking comedians on Facebook. What I know is this man has priors. What I know is this man associates with known fascists and fascist communities: Katie Hopkins, alt-right pages, Tommy Robinson (not motherfuckers with legit concerns about immigration: out and out racists). What I know is that his video seemed cut almost perfectly in the mode of the Daily Stormer (LITERAL NAZI ADVICE PAGE. LIKE THE OLD CHORTLE FORUMS FOR FUCKING NAZIS) which advises to make ‘overt nazism less overt. Try make it seem like a joke. People are willing to laugh at racism more than they are accept it outright.’ With the intent of slowly streaming nazi ideals into people’s sub/unconscious, you know in the same way huge companies spend billions of pounds on psychological advertising with the exact same intent?
These nazi’s aint stupid. Cambridge Analytica, daily stormer website, the fact they now control the USA, the UK, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and are in a coalition in power in Italy. It’s an old dichotomy that I’m not sure I’ve got 100% right but I believe it was Orwell who said it was a lack of information (via censorship) that would destroy civil society, but Huxley argued it was too much information: an overload of information would mean human beings see so much they don’t know what’s true and what’s not: everything is real and everything isn’t at the same time. And social media has created that environment where we as a society are as close to fundamental freedom of speech as we ever have been, and as a society it’s breaking us. Facebook has manipulated us into to putting our opinion out there and holding our opinion as important, and what’s it lead to is everyone talking and no one listening, and the fascists have managed to hijack that very successfully: Cambridge Analytica, Britain First starting out as a page just to ‘respect the troops’, or Breitbart continually putting pictures of terrorist attacks in London with Sadiq Khans face next to it slowly filtering into the British consciousness that the reason terrorist attacks are happening is because we have a Muslim Manchurian candidate in charge of the capital. It’s like that scene in Bruce almighty where Jim Carey gets Morgan Freeman’s (God in the movie, another hero exposed just hours earlier than the time of writing as a sex pest) power and loses his mind cause every thought, opinion and prayer hits his conscious at once. That’s where we are at as a society.
Comedians are such soft hypocrites at times. All day we talk about how Indians only get offended when you joke about Indians, same with Muslims, Jews, women, gays, yada yada yada, but as soon as they feel their own lifestyle and identity is under threat under the guise of freedom of speech, they’re leading the vanguard of the offended. The only motherfucker I seen write a piece on this that was fair I felt was David Baddiel (and that was his second piece on the matter once he came aware of the daily stormer stuff). Every other argument was just some cunt hollering: ‘FREEDOM OF SPEECH’ Like he’s the Braveheart of the intellectual classes. You can’t have absolute fundamental freedom of speech because the aforementioned everyone talking at the same time, and no one listening, but also because civil society and democracies are so much more than that: The foundation of any democracy is a tree upon which many branches hang, including: freedom of speech, which may intertwine with other branches: rule of law, the right to vote, and if respect for minorities is not a branch on your tree, then this debate is over already.
So the judge, and the CPS have made this decision based on either some of the above, all of the above and more, or none of the above. Now I don’t trust the CPS for shit cause I’ve had my own issues with them, but that’s another story for another day. And I’m not sure I fully trust any judicial system. In this country, and Ireland, I feel personally sexual crimes could be investigated in a far more efficient and just way, in America attitudes towards black suspects obviously need much rectification, but by and large I have to believe in the judicial system in this country, as if it was corrupt to it’s core, we might as well burn down Parliament, every court of law and legitimate business now. Is he a nazi or just a troll? I don’t know. Was it a crime? I don’t know. But unless your legal expert or were in the court room for all the facts, neither do you: fuck off. You’ve seen a snippet of information and jumped to a conclusion cause you’re scared of the ramifications to your life, and when my revolution comes ignorant bastards like you will be the first to go to the gas chambers.
If freedom of speech is really under threat, I’ll be arrested tomorrow, but we shall see.
Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?
Whatever that room dictates is not suitable. If you’re in a room full of Indians, don’t do jokes about brown people smelling, Jews: holocaust jokes, Muslims: jokes about how they’re all terrorists. If you want to go over the line, and think that’s what Lenny Bruce did way back when then crack on pal: but remember Lenny Bruce was also booed out of rooms, sometimes arrested, and not respected till long after his time, as do most true artists. So if you wanna be a maverick: you do you boo boo, maybe they will remember you half a century later, in the meantime I got bills to pay today, I ain’t thinking about a half centuries time.
Have you ever gone too far?
I used the n-word in my first ever gig. Everyone looked horrified except the one black guy creasing in the corner, everyone turned, saw him laughing, turned back, then didn’t know how to react. It was a great joke that accurately deconstructed and satirised UK race relations laws and I stand by it.
Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.
3 days at the stand one weekend. Headlining was Tom Stade who I’d watched on LATA long before I did my first gig. And I smashed it, every joke a round of applause: honestly. For those three days I thought I’d cracked comedy, I thought I had solved it forever. 3 years later and I realise you never solve it. It’s a case of cycling rolling hills, but with enough work: the steepest hill feels like the funnest flat once you’ve trained them quads enough.