Coming to the Soho Theatre this week, then marching on to lots of other places: Ahir Shah's new hour, Machines. What's it all about, Ahir? "It's a philosophical stand-up show," he says, "about things that are, were, and will be. The gag rate is deceptively high."
Machines has gotten some tremendous reviews already, but then so have this impressively issue-skewering comic's previous efforts, notably Anatomy, which won Best Show at the 2014 Leicester Comedy Festival. And that fest features a hell of a lot of shows, so that was pretty darn good going.
Award-winning shows are all well and good, but let's take him back to some earlier efforts, some of which were memorable for all the wrong reasons.
It was in the basement of a folk dance club. I was fifteen years old. This sounds like the beginning of a very different story.
Favourite show, ever?
The last performance of my first show on the Free Festival, Edinburgh 2013. After a month of lovely shows, realising that the Fringe didn't have to be a ruinous money pit, I decided that particular performance would be genuinely free. I didn't ask for donations, just sat down on the stage and watched as the audience filed out. I haven't been back to the paid Fringe since. Bliss.
After I got off stage last year in Paris, I and everyone else in the venue was evacuated by heavily armed police who had been called in to deal with one of a sequence of mass shootings perpetrated by jihadists that was occurring at a restaurant a couple of doors down from the venue. The gig itself was fairly pleasant but the memory is very much coloured by the whole nearly-being-murdered thing.
Who's the most disagreeable person you've come across in the business?
If I told you, the answer would become "me".
I do not get involved with zany antics or hi-jinks.
The most memorable review, heckle or post-gig reaction?
I quite like any reaction born of a total inability to understand irony. This has led to me being accused of various forms of bigotry as a result of my anti-bigotry bits. It's super cute.
Is there one routine/gag you loved, that audiences inexplicably didn't?
[The] audience's lack of enjoyment in response to my work has been many things, but it has never been inexplicable. It's always deeply explicable.
What's your best insider travel tip, for touring comics?
The British rail system is actually pretty efficient and, if booked in advance, very reasonably priced. Quit whining.
How do you feel about where your career is at, right now?
Happy. Isn't that boring?
'Machines' is at the Soho Theatre from Tues 4th to Sat 8th October 2016, then tours the UK. Visit ahirshah.com for details.