Paul Chowdhry exposes himself in new show, 'Live Innit'

Chowdhry looks forward to finding out what tickles Australian audiences, assuming his beard and surname don’t get him locked up by airport security.

Paul Chowdhry has become a representative of Britain’s Muslim community – hindered only slightly by the fact that he isn’t one.
“If Slumdog Millionaire’s on at the cinema, then you’re Indian, and if something Muslim starts going on, then you’re Muslim,” says the Punjabi-descendant comedian. “People are quite driven by what they see on TV.”
With a swaggering demeanour and a beard that would put a Fitzroy hipster to shame, Chowdhry has become an increasingly recognisable figure in British comedy. After appearing at the Hammersmith Apollo, Chowdhry is bringing his streetwise stand-up to Australia for the first time, including a drop-in at the Athenaeum for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
“I’ve been getting so many messages on social media from Australians that I think it’s finally time to give in and sit on that flight for a while,” he says. “This is my first-ever time in that part of the world and I can’t wait to see what the audiences are gonna be into. I’m looking forward to seeing all the Neighbours.”
Chowdhry has been whittling down several hours of material to a concentrated one-hour dose for the festival. He prefers performing at small and mid-sized venues like the 1,000-seat Athenaeum, which allow him more easily to connect with - or confront - his audience.
“There’s a lot of improvisation,” says Chowdhry. “It’s probably entertainment in its purest form; a man with a microphone, exposing himself. Well – not exposing himself.”
Chowdhry’s popularity got a bump in 2014 after he took to YouTube to roast the trolls who left insulting, and often ungrammatical, comments on his social media pages.
“I treat them like a heckler at a comedy club,” says Chowdhry. “What people are told to do is ignore them. Why feed the trolls? I didn’t feed the trolls, I gave them a three-course meal.”
His fascination with the absurdities of the Facebook era continues into his current Live Innit tour, where he’s taking a moment to talk about online dating.
“Tinder and Bumble is where it’s at now for people,” says Chowdhry. “You remember, 15 years ago, if you had a date with someone online, people thought you were gonna get murdered. Now, if you have a date with someone that isn’t online, people think you’re gonna get murdered.”
Chowdhry’s upcoming projects include the film Madness in the Method, the directorial debut of Jason Mewes of Jay and Silent Bob infamy. At the conclusion of the Live Innit tour in June, Chowdhry has an additional TV project in the pipeline.
“But, you know what they say – when they’re in the pipeline, they don’t really exist,” he says.
Chowdhry looks forward to finding out what tickles Australian audiences, assuming his beard and surname don’t get him locked up by airport security.
“I like to bring something more emotional and deeper to the shows sometimes, especially with this show,” he says. “Whether people take it home or not is up to them.”

Venue: Athenaeum Theatre
Dates: Saturday April 21 & Sunday April 22
Tickets: $54.90