Internet comedians can often struggle to transition to live shows. The style of humour that works for brief comedic skits doesn’t always translate to full hour long stand-up sets and Neel Kolhatkar, most famous for his ‘Australia in Two Minutes’ video, might have seemed like he’d be one of those comedians. Spoiler alert; he isn’t. ‘Neel before Me’ is a clever, incisive and outright hilarious stand-up show, packed full of great punch lines, brilliant observations, spot-on impersonations and carried all the way by Kolhatkar’s verve and charisma.
Neel Kolhatkar makes for an appealing and likeable presence. He’s self-deprecating and gracious to the audience while never compromising the irreverent humour that made his internet videos so popular. Unlike some other internet comedians who have attempted with middling success to try stand-up, Kolhatkar’s show works because there’s intelligence and insight beneath the politically-incorrect barbs and penchant for profane but not inaccurate impersonations.
Much of Kolhatkar’s material deals with PC-Culture, shining a different light on some of the issues that populate Face book news feeds and Buzz feed articles. In a particularly brilliant segment he makes a disturbing yet compelling case for Gina Rinehart as a feminist icon. Being a member of Generation-Y comes in for some strangely nostalgic ribbing, while an analysis of the romantic credentials of certain sexual acts had the audience shrieking with laughter.
Kolhatkar is great at engaging with the audience, responding with wit to the few people yelling out and always seeming happy to be there. The show itself runs for a fleet hour, and never drags. Segments that are less funny that others quickly give way to different material; Kolhatkar doesn’t let one topic bog him down for too long, yet each segment of the show felt like it ran naturally from one to the next, alternating between the raucous and the more reflective with impressive dexterity. By the time the lights come up you’re left both satisfied and wanting more. It’s hard to think of a better way to feel at the end of a show than that.
Being only in his early twenties, the fact that Kolhatkar is putting together shows and accomplished and entertaining as this is beyond impressive, but even saying that feels condescending. Watching this show felt like watching the work of a confident and extremely talented professional, age notwithstanding. If you’re a fan of profane yet clever humour, or you just want to see someone whose career will doubtless go into the stratosphere in the next few years, or if you just want to laugh a lot, this show is a must see.