Hardeep and meaningful

Round & About

Phoenix Theatre and Arts Centre

Peter Anderson catches up with Hardeep Singh Kohli ahead of his Alternative, Fact stand-up show which lands at Bordon’s Phoenix Theatre & Arts Centre

Q: Which came first for you; comedy or journalism..? And how did you discover satire?
“I grew up in the VCR generation which meant we recorded and rewatched comedy over and over again. I never dreamt that I’d one day be working in comedy. Comedy was my passion but journalism was going to be my job. Then I ended up going to law school and joining the BBC. I never ‘discovered’ satire because I don’t remember a time before it. Not The Nine O’Clock News, Yes Minister, Bill Hicks, The News Quiz, The New Statesman – satire was everywhere. And I was at school with Armando Iannuci…”

Q. Who were/are your inspirations?
“I would be nothing without Billy Connolly; I think there’s a generation or two of comics that feel the same. From the age of six I was listening to his records and singing his songs. The brilliant linguaphilia of The Two Ronnies, the sheer joyous nonsense of Eric Morecambe, the multi-talented wordsmithery of Victoria Wood… I continue to be inspired by comics such as Tez Ilyas who is both hugely warm and very funny. Katherine Ryan amazes me with her ability to be crushingly funny yet remain utterly adorable. I never tire of Kevin Bridges’ effortless excellence and I love the darkness of Romesh Ranganathan.”

Q. Do you prefer stand-up where you can get a response or satirical journalism where the response can be a little slower?
“Very good question. When I write I have the ability to delete, rewrite and change. I can go and make a cup of tea and reflect upon a thought. On stage you have one chance, one moment. You have to be able to read the room and feel the energy of the crowd. There is nothing that sharpens focus quite like that! Plus, you never see a reader throw down the paper in disagreement; you definitely see them get up and go!”

Q. Is there somewhere you would really love to perform your show?
“I’d love to play universities and colleges and tap into the energy of the next generation of thinkers and activists.”

Q. How do you relax?
“I love to cook and to eat. I find both – with the inclusion of excellent craft beer – the best way to be.”

Q. What is your writing method; can you discipline yourself to write for so long each day, or do you write as and when The Muse descends?
“I’m a paid writer; I have two deadlines a week so I have to be able to write on demand. The Muse will descend from time to time; I need to make more space for her in my life.”

Q. If you were stranded on a desert island, with two or three others – living, fictional or historical – who would you pick?
“Rosa Parks, My paternal grandfather who died before I was born and my daughter.”

Hardeep’s politically charged show Alternative, Fact is at The Phoenix Theatre & Arts Centre on Friday, 27th April. Tickets £12 – visit www.phoenixarts.co.uk to book.