Even over a crackling, fragile phone connection, Paul Chowdhry exudes confidence. When I ask him if playing London's 12,500-capacity Wembley Arena was daunting, he simply says; "I'm a living legend."
Though Wembley is quite the crowd for any comic to hold, Chowdhry was more than up for the task. His 100-date Live Innit tour was a sell-out throughout the UK, receiving glowing reviews across the board and elevating his already-high profile. But Chowdhry's confidence is grounded in humility. "I was more impressed by the fact that it was on a Wednesday night and that many people turned up," he says.
For New Zealand audiences, Live Innit will provide an introduction to Chowdhry's searing political humour. "I think every comic has to talk about Trump," he says. "I talk about the state of political correctness in the current climate. I talk about Brexit. I talk about being mistaken for a suspected terrorist in the UK."
Chowdhry's previous show, PC's world, was named both for his initials and the aforementioned term, political correctness. His approach to the topic thankfully eschews the all-to-familiar cries of those who find their old ways challenged by new ways of thinking. Instead, Chowdhry – who has encountered far more than his fair share of horrendous online abuse – approaches it as a balancing act.
"There are so many things that people say you can't say, but I think it's more about the intent and your social environment," he says. "But obviously there are things that shouldn't be said anymore, like racial slurs – the kind that were thrown around in the 80s and 90s that you just wouldn't say anymore.
"I don't agree with anyone who's hard left or hard right, I think everyone should have a balanced opinion to subjects."
In regards to trolls, Chowdhry isn't one to brush them off. In fact, he used to turn them into content. "I basically used to make videos on Facebook where I outed trolls," he says. "If they insulted me, I treated them like hecklers at a comedy club, and I ripped them apart. And then those videos did about 10 million views on Facebook."
In the process, Chowdhry hoped to highlight the worrying lack of control around online bullying. "There's no legislation really to online trolling, or sexism or racism or homophobia. It just seems to be acceptable on the internet," he says.
"I've had death threats before in the UK online, and taken them to the police, and they say, 'It's hard to take this case further because the guy who sent it to you can just claim that someone was using his account.' It's so hard to actually prosecute," says Chowdhry.
Who: Paul Chowdhry
What: Live Innit, at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival
When: Monday April 30, 7pm
Where: Skycity Theatre