Playbill Pick: Paul Chowdhry: Family-Friendly Comedian at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe | Playbill

Playbill Goes Fringe Playbill Pick: Paul Chowdhry: Family-Friendly Comedian at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This comedian is hilarious in his stand-up show that's definitely (despite what the title says) not meant for children.

Paul Chowdhry

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!

As part of our Edinburgh Fringe coverage, Playbill is seeing a whole lotta shows—and we're sharing which ones you absolutely must see if you're only at the Fringe for a short amount of time. Consider these Playbill Picks a friendly, opinionated guide as you try to choose a show at the festival.

Comedian Paul Chowdhry is on a mission. He wants to become the kind of family-friendly comedian who hosts daytime television and gets asked to appear on baking shows. To further this cause, he has named his current show Paul Chowdhry: Family-Friendly Comedian. There’s even a little stuffed version of Chowdhry that sits on stage while the audience files into the theatre. 

Alas, it quickly becomes apparent why his mission is doomed to failure. 

He is not—as he puts it in a fake high-pitched, cheerful voice—the type of “Hey guys, how are you” comedian that audiences expect in their daytime lineup. He tends to be a bit on the angrier side of things, as evidenced by his repeatedly calling our audience “a morgue” and determining that people were losing limbs and dying throughout the show. Which is to say, I genuinely don’t think I’ve laughed as much at any other show at the Fringe so far this year. It’s the sort of show that makes you forget you’re in an un-air-conditioned, stuffy theatre because you’re too busy trying to catch your breath from laughing so hard.

Well, I was anyway.

Chowdhry tells us at the beginning of the show that this is astonishingly his 24th year at the Fringe, having made his debut back in 1999. Other notable facts: He’s the first ever British-Indian to appear on BBC’s Live at the Apollo, he sold out London’s 10,000 seat Wembley Arena, and…he was on the third series of Taskmaster, where—spoiler alert—he came in last place. 

It always amazes me that at the Fringe, audiences can see a comedian popular enough to sell out an entire arena play a space that holds under 200 people.

One thing that really impressed me about Chowdhry’s set was how he was able to pivot the tone of the show. One minute he's yelling at the people in the first two rows, complaining about how Jeffrey Dahmer has a Netflix series but not him, and the similarity between the word “tattie” (the Scottish word for potato) and a Punjami word that means...something far less delicious. Then suddenly he starts talking about the heartbreaking death of his parents and his struggles with mental health. And then (bam!) we're back to the comedy. I'm not sure there are many other comedians who could do that without losing the audience.

While Chowdhry continues his quixotic quest to become “family friendly” enough for daytime TV, his nighttime shows at the Fringe are some of the best at this year’s Fringe. Well worth seeing if you can snag a ticket, innit.

Paul Chowdhry: Family-Friendly Comedian runs until August 27 at Pleasance Courtyard - Cabaret Bar. The entire run is currently sold out, but to check for last minute returns, click here. For recommendations on more comedians to see at the Fringe, click hereSee what other shows Playbill recommends at this venue.

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