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Venue:Cabaret Voltaire, 36-38 Blair Street Edinburgh EH1 1QR
Phone: 0131 247 4704
Links: Click Here for venue details, Click here for map
Ticket Prices: Free  
Room: Main Room
AUG 4-28 at 13:30 (60 min)
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Philosophical stand-up Ahir Shah combines questing polemic with hella sweet gags in Machines: an hour of comedy about democracy, technology, internationalism, terrorism, history, modernity, utopia and lizards. It's both funny and good. Shah's last show, Distant, was performed to critical and popular acclaim at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe, and subsequently toured around the UK, Paris and Australia. He is very rarely on television or radio, which is a shame really. The venue is centrally located. The show is free. Nice. ‘Passionate, poetic, powerfully funny’ **** (List). ‘A potent and articulate comic voice’ **** (Scotsman). ‘Excellent’ **** (Guardian).

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News and Reviews for this Show

September 4, 2016  The Scotsman
Review for Ahir Shah: Machines
Venue: Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire (Venue 338) Consolidating Ahir Shah’s reputation for dense, thoughtful hours full of political polemic and fraught with personal unease, Machines is dizzying in the breadth of its exploration, closing with an account of his involvement in horror that only further destabilises the listener. Part of the reason Shah performs stand-up is the sense it gives him of being in control, a fleeting feeling that dissipates whenever he’s returned to the real world. He begins with the premise that we’re all so aware of the suffering and inequality out there, but so “atomised” that we’re impotent, his own recourse being to drink and seek help for his depression. This might sound heavy but Shah is as sharp and punchily funny as he is occasionally smug, the impressive wielding of his otherwise ineffectual intellect a pyrrhic victory that he tempers with self-deprecation. Witnessing the rise of the far-right internationally, the self-loathing liberal finds himself questioning democracy. Yet he makes passionate advocacy for the necessity of immigration for reinvigorating society’s lifeblood, even if his own tale of a grandfather arriving from India with £3 hasn’t worked out brilliantly, his debt making for a Shah family net loss. Naturally, the result of the EU referendum has caused him considerable disquiet but he’s less concerned about the rise of the machines, comedian seeming set to be one of the last jobs automated. Rejecting utopianism, calling out fascists and Stalinists, he builds furious heads of steam in his intellectualising, his eloquent articulacy conveying often complex ideas in pithy, grimly funny lines. He got to see them relate to the real world though when he was caught up in the Paris terrorist attacks last November. Affording a dramatic climax to the show, it’s an extreme way to close an hour that offers few crumbs of comfort to the anxious.

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August 25, 2016  Edinburgh Festival Magazine
Review for Machines
An hour of emotional stand-up comedy, Ahir Shah delivers an insightful show at this year’s Fringe.

Accompanying his self-depreciating, sarcastic style of humour, Shah ponders over a wide range of topics; from depression to alcoholism, to religious extremism and racism. He discusses a culture that allows history to repeat itself, preventing us from ever fully developing, which is extraordinarily thought-provoking.

A deep-thinking, intelligent man with a hint of controversy and dark humour, Ahir Shah provides a powerful yet comedic hour of entertainment. His recounting of his personal experience in Paris during the November shootings is a darkly wonderful piece that so adroitly manages to amuse and amaze.

The show is a worthwhile visit for a stand-up show unlike any other and an exceptionally memorable experience. Shah will also be returning to Edinburgh on the 14th of September as part of his Machines tour.

Words: Calum Wilson

Ahir Shah: Machines, Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, Aug 23-28, 1:30pm Click Here

August 17, 2016  Broadway Baby
Review for Ahir Shah: Machines
Following on from the success of Distant at last year’s Fringe and an international tour, Ahir Shah is back in Edinburgh with a new show brimming with witty political polemic and intelligence. Shah’s fast-pace show takes a winding route as he examines the world we live in, its infinite complexity and the alarming speed at which it is changing. In a whirlwind tour of his political views Shah covers issues surrounding immigration, the terrifying rise in hard right sentiment and the appropriation of various religions for violence, all the while hinting at that better world we seem so close to realising.

Machines is making important points in beautiful, funny and often poignant ways.
Despite the seriousness of these issues, Shah packs in the laughs, sprinkling a few more lighthearted jokes into the mix for good measure. He delivers his set with a fervour that is fitting for the topic in hand, although this can make his shifts into silliness seem a little sharp.

Shah’s material is intricately crafted, often melancholically beautiful in tone and so densely written that we frequently sweep through several philosophical points in the space of a single breath. His rhythmic delivery imbues the show with a whiff of spoken word poetry. Suffused with whimsically archaic syntax and poetic turns of phrase - the world today is simultaneously “hyperconnected and atomised” - Shah’s set is painstakingly sewn together with a compact verbal utilitarianism that makes every word feel deliberate, even if they are spoken at hyper-speed.

The eloquence and cleverness of his set is understandably something Shah is aware of, but unfortunately there is a little smugness to his performance style, magnified by the odd brag about his own talent, that ever so slightly hinders the audience’s engagement with him as a performer.
Nevertheless, Machines is making important points in beautiful, funny and often poignant ways. Ahir Shah is going places and his show is definitely one to catch while it’s still free - but if you want to get a seat, make sure to get there early! Click Here

August 9, 2016  List
Ahir Shah has been working steadily towards producing an hour of stand-up as powerful as Machines for a number of years now. His brand of unapologetic liberal-left cage-rattling has always been energising for its vaulting ambition and wrestling with ideas (and sizzling quality of the jokes, of course). But this time around an emotional heft has been loaded on; being caught up in the carnage and chaos of Paris last November has given him a real perspective on the world affairs he has long discussed in his work. Click Here

August 8, 2016  Fest
At times it seems as though Ahir Shah is more intent on rallying support for his partisan cause than making people laugh, but he manages to do both, so it's fine. Machines is a caustic triumph, sure to gain him fans if not political disciples. Click Here

August 7, 2016  Chortle
An hour in the company of Ahih Shah will make you feel smarter, like you’ve read several books on social science in one intense mind-scrambling session.

He starts from the premise that we all live in a ‘hyperconnected yet atomised’ world, aware of horrors and inequity but so increasingly isolated and impotent to be able to do much about it. The rise of insular politics, from Trump to Ukip to various far-right European parties to the nationalistic Hindus in India, is clearly a worry, especially after the Brexit vote. Click Here

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