Review: Ahir Shah, Duffer, Burning Duck Comedy Club, The Basement, City Screen, York, January 18

AHIR Shah’s show Duffer wades through the messes we make, politically and personally, with an abundance of charm and easy-come (never easy-go) wit. Shah’s a confident comedian, despite the open criticism of his show structure when it comes to the interval, and he crafts a story which wanders through hilarious highs and some tragedy handled incredibly sincerely.

Shah feels decidedly open to the crowd, discussing his journey with depression as easily as he recounts an anecdote about a recent holiday. It’s this frankness that sets up Shah’s set for an in-depth look at his relationship with his family, in particular those members he has now lost.

Death is a minefield of a topic in stand-up: mention it too late and you run the risk of being counted in with recent criticisms of the “dead dad” comedy set; rely too heavily on the subject and it’s hard to find the room for jokes. Shah walks the delicate line of handling his subject matter with sensitivity, while also allowing the set to breathe, so when the punch lines do hit, they don’t feel out of place.

Something Shah discusses is the cranial juxtaposition of happy and sad emotions, and this closeness of levity and gravitas embodies his set. How else could he set up a brilliantly silly runner throughout the show, which arrives again like a lump in the throat at the show’s conclusion?

Louise Jones