There are few things which will elicit ashamed giggling or an audible intake of breath with a comedy audience these days quite like racial humour. Ashamed giggles and breath intakes can change in an instant to all-out hostility and vocal outrage, as in the case of Michael ‘Kramer’ Richards. With the likes of Simon Brodkin though, we are in assured, sensitive hands. During his August Edinburgh shows, the hushed acceptance of him browning up as his character Dr Omprakash was a sign that modern comedy audiences are mature enough to resist jumping towards stark conclusions about a comic’s intentions. The character Brodkin played was simply a reflection of the many sides of the UK which he seeks to represent while on stage.
‘You’ll be surprised how much I hadn’t spoken to people about it,’ Brodkin told me when I asked about the inevitable debates he must have had into the wee small hours, tossing and turning the pros and cons of tackling such a creation. ‘When people find things funny they tend not to talk to you about it; it’s only when people don’t find things funny that they’ll ask you whether something was the right or wrong thing to do.’ Less contentious but brilliantly observed and hilariously written and performed are his naive trustafarian Hugo Victor-Grant, the tactless holiday rep Chris Young and the freewheeling chav Lee Nelson. It’s all too unlikely, but if this comedy lark should go belly-up, then Brodkin can always go back to his day job. ‘Yes, I’m still a doctor. Unless I’ve been struck off without being told.’
The Pleasance, Edinburgh, Tue 16 Jan; The Stand, Edinburgh, Thu 18 Jan.