Kabir Singh

Comedian Kabir Singh Saturday night at Koot's. (Photo by Joe Slowinski)

Comedian Kabir Singh, fresh off of his successful appearance on season 16 of America’s Got Talent, performed at Koot’s in Anchorage last Saturday night and Everett’s in Palmer on Friday night.  

Singh, born in Portland, has honed his comedic skills over a decade of performing on the road in clubs throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. And, his humor has been shaped from his experiences being raised in an Indian family.

Singh pushes the boundaries by using common stereotypical biases as the root of his jokes. For example, he is known for bits on arranged marriage, Deal or No Deal would not work in India, SIRI is racist, and only white people can be serial killers. The last has been met with some level of controversy.  

Throughout the one-hour set, the crowd remained engaged as he spun his tales. As his set neared closure, Singh revealed one of his best jokes of the night. As an audience member pointed out a journal notebook on his chair, he revealed that the notebook was new material he would try out with the last few jokes of the night. As he flipped through obvious empty pages, shown to the crowd, Singh had no new material in his journal. This was both a parody of other comedians and symbolic of his professional life as a working comic. Many comedians test out material on the road and bring their notes on stage. His reveal of empty pages was a clever critique of the profession while demonstrating truth of his own recent rise in comedy.

True, a search of his prior shows on YouTube would allow you to hear nearly all of his bits, many spanning the past decade, and that the audience heard at Koot’s on Saturday evening.  But, this truth misses the depth of talent I witnessed on Saturday night.  There is something special about seeing a talented comedian live on stage.  And, like your favorite band, you still attend to see the magic of a live performance even if you already know all the lyrics.

Throughout his set, Singh expertly avoided the overtly drunk middle aged woman-heckler yelling out responses to his jokes. His clever wit was on full display as he retained audience elicited information that became the genesis of new rapid-fire jokes.  True, most comedians have written content anticipating specific professions or the marital status of audience members.  Yet, most comedians do not command the depth of detail and quantity of varied responses.  His abilities exemplify a sharp cognitive power and audience members walk away impressed.  Time and time again, he created new jokes that became layered and evolved throughout the night. This impressive skill is a gift few comedians possess. During this show, the crowd included a board game designer, a morning show radio host and others.  He spontaneously created jokes about each and returned to mention them seamlessly throughout the night.

When you search for Kabir Singh you might be surprised when Google search returns a 2019 Hindi language romantic comedy about “an exalted but short-fused surgeon plunges into a spiral of drugs, alcohol and rage after his intense relationship with his girlfriend turbulently ends.”  Kabir Singh, the movie, grossed over $2 million in the U.S. and $6.9 million worldwide. Kabir Singh, the comedian is not in the film, but, truthfully, it is only a matter of time before he hits it big.

Specifically, the future looks bright for Kabir Singh. Keep an eye out for his upcoming performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  He may not be earning this amount of income now as a working comedian, although, I expect a major breakthrough for him in the upcoming 24 to 36 months. With his sharp wit, he should be a household name by 2030.

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