Rohan Ashar speaking into a microphone, performing at comedy show

Rohan Ashar: “2 Close 2 Home” review

As the title of his new show, “2 Close 2 Home” suggests, Rohan Ashar is currently going through a slight adjustment.

Having spent four years in the wonderfully un-diverse city of York, both for university and later work, he has returned home to perform a series of stand-up shows as part of the 2023 Watford Fringe line-up, where he reflects on his experiences of university life.

Specifically, Ashar delves deeply into what it was like to be a student of Indian heritage in a town that isn’t exactly a thriving hotbed of multiculturalism.

Or, according to the National Union of Students, a “racialised student” (what an unproblematic term that is), which Ashar funnily unpicks with a skit about waking up as a white man, painting himself brown and pledging himself to ethnic  radicalisation.

Hey, at least they’ve progressed, because apparently, they referred to all minorities as “Black” before this: something that could surely only be justified if you are an old white person living in York.

Ashar has had to navigate plenty of them during his time there, recounting good anecdotes about how York’s narrow streets makes overtaking a slow-moving senior citizen extra difficult.

Travelling appears to be one of the only times he can encounter fellow South Asians – he amusingly points out that in York, Mohamed in his Toyota Prius is a well-known entity.

And let’s just say the less said about the quality of Indian food, the better.

Ashar also discusses his studies – how, to the dismay of family members, he still hasn’t finished his degree.

Scanning the front row, where several of his family were in attendance, Ashar cheekily remarks that the combination of Indian discipline and Will Smith making audiences more slap-happy is giving him great cause for concern.

This got a lot of laughs, but I can’t imagine it made him feel any safer up on stage.

He also impressively manages to make literary criticism obsolete in saying that, since William Shakespeare didn’t have any non-white people around when he was writing his plays, he isn’t very good at dealing with race.


There was also an entertaining preceding support act from fellow York alumni Fin Avison, who became the first person I’ve ever heard to associate Victoria sponge cake with race.

I’d admired the bravery with which he attacked this English delicacy (he is a self-professed Scot after all) as possessing no meaningful substance.

On top of this, he self-deprecatingly laments how autistic social failings at parties aren’t quite as easy to play off as drunken ones – “I’m sorry about Fin, he’s just really autistic” being my favourite quip.

Overall, there is a very relaxed ease to Ashar’s comedy – he performs with confidence but not arrogance and establishes a genial bond with the audience really early on that lasts throughout the whole show – not a mean feat considering the set is 40 minutes long.

He even dealt well with an accidental heckle which had the added effect of stealing his next joke – I can assure him that said heckler was very apologetic afterwards.

A great night of comedy, and I am sure there will be much more to come from him.

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