Quick! Before They Deport Us!

12 October 2018, Hastings
By Rosheen FitzGerald

Rain drums on the roof of Commoners’ Green, but the mass of Fringe aficionados, mostly on their second or third show of the night, are undeterred by the deluge. We’re here to see an ensemble of five desi comedians, come from the Indian subcontinent via Wellington to tickle our fancies.

Sri, our host for the evening, lines up the low hanging fruit and bats them out of the park. Karma Sutra, tech support and butter chicken – our go-to preconceptions are dispensed with in the first thirty seconds.

Sowmya, a pint-sized maharani with a wry wit, turns her thoughts to staples of the feminine experience – dating, grocery shopping, the perils of an overbearing mother attempting to arrange her marriage via Facebook.

Advait plays up the character of ‘the awkward Indian guy’ (he swears it’s not an act) – super dry with killer timing. He reels us in with self-depreciation before turning the tables and going for the jugular: punching up at the cornerstones of Kiwi life – the drinking culture, the haka, rugby, Gallipoli. The latter, in particular, flies close to the sun, but his skill, the lateness of the hour, the small but significant proportion of ex-pats in the audience with no skin in the game willing to bring their guffaws to a tipping point, lets him get away with it…just.

Sanjay delivers high energy bitching and moaning on an increasingly obscure laundry list of minutiae whose content, if not the degree of his irascibility, are instantly relatable.

Aku brings bizarre anecdotes to life with bombastic aplomb and fantastic facial acting. His send up of his conservative parents’ woefully inadequate sex education, complete with authentic accents, is a highlight.

There’s something about the immigrant experience that allows for an observational style that straddles the boundaries of the host culture – one leg outside, one leg within. But for these comics and their audience, the biggest divide is not between the Indian subcontinent and the Land of the Long White Cloud, but rather, the line drawn between the urban metropolis from which they more recently hail, and us, here in the regions.

Though there is a certain congruence between the Wellingtonians’ hipster homeland of Newtown and the Common block of Heretaunga Street, what we’ve got here is so much more than an annex of the capitol. It’s Hastings. It’s Fringe. Now why don’t you come down and see for yourselves….

Quick! Before They Deport Us! is on again tonight at 10.15pm – head to the Common Room and follow the fairy lights to the coolest, secret venue in the Bay.

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