Known for the uncanny impersonations and entertaining observations so often at the centre of his YouTube videos, Neel Kolhatkar has been making waves in the Aussie comedy scene both online and on stage in recent years. Reluctant to embrace the label of “Youtube Sensation” - despite his popular comedy channel garnering upwards of 30 million views - the 22-year-old can’t be described than anything short of a rising star.
Kolhatkar’s quick-witted and intelligent approach to comedy shone through last night, as he took the stage of The Arkaba Hotel for the opening night of The Adelaide Fringe Festival; his second Australian Date for this tour. In a unique twist on the widely discouraged objectification of women online, this comedian invites us all to #ObjectifyNeel “because brown men need to be more sexually objectified”.
Engaged from the get-go, crowd participation was far from lacking as Kolhatkar encouraged input on obviously pressing issues such as his height (or lack therof), Disney movies and the antics of the now obsolete, and OG social media, MSN. Undeterred by the occasional heckler, audience members became improvised motifs of the show that resulted in personalised flourishes of ‘in-jokes’ so adored by stand-up crowds.
Kolhatkar uniquely translated his sharp observational comedy from the web to the Fullarton stage of The Arkaba. The transition from camera to live audience came seemingly effortlessly to the Sydney based comedian, whose radiant charisma and unapologetic sense of humour left nothing to be desired. With his confidence building throughout the show, Kolhatkar’s likability shone through as cheeky chuckles slipped out at jokes that landed particularly well.
Self professed to be condemned by both the far left for his “offensiveness” and by the far right for his minority status, the comic took aim at both as he skilfully weaved together light vulgarity and Pauline Hanson’s philosophies. Throughout the ebbs and flows of anecdotes from Brighton le Sands, to tackling heavier topics such as extremist politics and cultural diversity, Kolhatkar maintained a sense of light-heartedness throughout. From #whitegirls on Instagram to The Simpsons’ Apu, the impressions and accents adored by his subscribers were not once employed in the hope of a cheap laugh.
To uncover the true intended use for phonebooks, why they never should have found Nemo and a chance to #ObjectifyNeel, check out Neel Kolhatkar for his final Fringe date tonight at The Arkaba.
Star Rating: 5/5
Header image via The Arkaba Hotel
All other images via Ben Neale.