For something that tries so hard to be right all the time, there’s an awful lot wrong with political correctness. So says Rahul Kohli, a genial comedian who admits that such linguistic affirmative action was created to protect people like him. Kohli was the only Indian growing up on an estate in Newcastle.
“Political correctness is only for you honkey motherfuckers!” he cackles, before prodding the audience with jokes about race and misogyny. Don’t worry. Kohli’s critique of political correctness isn’t from the UKIP branch of political thought. His beef is that treading around certain phrases and subjects makes people fear words more than actions. And so, after every outre joke he stops to question why the audience laughed or just winced, like a doctor tapping a patient’s knee searching for a reflex.
Mercifully, the audience does laugh. A lot. Schooled in the rat-at-at delivery of Chris Rock, Kohli gleefully picks at the unease from which political correctness attempts to spare white, liberal types. Unease such as the idea that racism between ethnic groups is at times more virulent than racism meted out against them in the West. Or that it is understandable to be more upset by terrorist attacks in Paris than those in Islamabad. In the hands of someone with Kohli’s smarts, from areas of great discomfort comes great laughter and insight. It does, however, take him a while to build up a head of steam. With the "where are you from?" patter and jokes about the Geordie accent, his first 20 minutes are more like a warm-up act for himself.
But the closing salvo, dripping with articulate wit, more than compensates. It’s enough to make you hand in your badge to the PC brigade.