Ahir Shah’s 2018 Comedy Award nominated show Duffer was always going to be a tough act to follow. While Duffer was a scorching, emotive show that left the audience in stunned reverence Dots is a more measured take on family, love, faith and colonialism.
A captivating and poetic storyteller, Shah’s on-stage persona is such that he tells the audience he lacks confidence while appearing to be the most confident person you’ve ever encountered. The comedian used to be a news junkie but gave up because “issues that make me frustrated are everything I see when I open my eyes.” When he opens the cesspit of social media (Twitter) he is met with polarizing views and culture wars. Everyone must pick a side and as a society we have forgotten that it’s possible to sit a fight out if we don’t know enough about the subject or don’t have a strong opinion. Occasionally sitting on the fence may be the key to staying sane in this time of internet hostility.
Shah is whip smart and the hour is packed with satisfying, well earned laughs. He rejects the idea that cultural stereotypes aren’t always based in truth and mocks the term ‘person of colour.’ He wonders when it was decided that everyone who isn’t white was to be lumped into the same category, meaning he is effectively interchangeable with any other brown person in existence. He’s also reclaimed the former racial slur used to describe people of Pakistani origin and uses it freely to describe himself, realising that it makes some people uncomfortable.
The issue of faith was a huge thread running through Duffer and Dots sees the stand-up gravitate towards Hinduism while suffering from an existential crisis and depression. He came to the conclusion that “belief helps.” His parents have faith and are his touchstone for romantic love too, with the story of their meeting woven into the story. There are satisfying callbacks and seeds plated early in the show bloom by the finale. You leave the show with a sense of wonder at how such huge themes can be funny but that’s Shah’s gift – giving light to weightier topics and allowing the audience a chance to think about their own place in the world.