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Arzoo Malhotra: First Degeneration (Arzoo Malhotra)

By | Published on Monday 14 August 2023

Arzoo Malhotra breaks off a set midway to check that a member of the audience is feeling okay. It’s a surprisingly kind angle to a self-described acidic comic. There’s a very sweet demeanour to Malhotra’s on-stage presence that means she can lead a crowd into a false sense of security before delivering a gut-punch of a dark joke (mapping out every private army-led war, anyone?). ‘First Degeneration’ follows Malhotra growing up across several countries including India and Egypt before her move to America as an adult. The material is largely anecdotal and flows gently, accompanied by a powerpoint with several maps to visualise her changing world. Malhotra has also peppered one-liner punchlines to her set pieces within the slides. Delivery here falls flat because she’s left tone and pacing to the audience: better to reduce the tech from double act partner to visual aid.

Just the Tonic at The Caves, until 27 Aug (not 14)
tw rating 3/5 | [Louise Jones]