hardeep is feeling the love

HARDEEP Singh Kohli wants to talk and that's just what he is going to do at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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Hardeep with his brother, Still Game star Sanjeev
Hardeep with his brother, Still Game star Sanjeev

The Glasgow funny man's comedy show sees him talking about the passion and pitfalls of love in middle age.

But first up, he takes off his comedian's hat for a moment to talk politics. It's hard to avoid, given he's been presenting Radio 2's Commonwealth Games series.

As the son of Indian immigrants who came to Scotland in the sixties, he said of the colonial aspect of the Games: "I think the Games coming to Glasgow as too important an opportunity to miss, given the impact it can have on urban regeneration and the possible change in people's lives in terms of exercise and diet.

"But the Radio 2 series was also about the other side of the argument whereby the Commonwealth was built on the bones and blood of slavery. There's no point in trying to deny that.

"However, we are moving forward as a multicultural city.

"And there's no point in chucking stones from the outside so I thought the best way was to try to use the Commonwealth project as a force for good."

The former law student who joined the BBC's graduate programme and became a director, presenter and writer, Hardeep takes the wide view.

He said: "Yes, there were Nigerian athletes in Glasgow with their country representing the worst cases of homophobic legislation in the world, but there is a fully functioning democracy in Glasgow which can highlight this.

"I'd like to see more lobbying of the Commonwealth on human rights issues but sport and politics is always complex.

"Look at Russia's human rights policy, and they were still given the Winter Olympics."

He adds, grinning: "But then I'm just a fat lad from Bishopbriggs. What do I know?"

What Hardeep does know is the debt he owes to Glasgow.

"If I hadn't come from the city I'd be a completely different person," he admits.

"Glasgow is a character in the story of our lives alongside our family, our friends, our lovers and our wives.

"Glasgow is the reason my brother (actor and Still Game star Sanjeev) and I have ended up doing what we do.

"And Glaswegians are funny. Put 100 of us in a room, and I'll be the 99th funniest person there.

"And we are aware that the Sikhs have settled so well here because there is an open-heartedness in the Sikhs that's recognised by Glaswegians."

He adds, laughing: "I'm just glad I don't come from Linlithgow. Nothing against people from Linlithgow but it's incredible to come from Glasgow, a city with such great history and politics."

Yet after living in London most of his adult life, Hardeep moved back north to Edinburgh.

He said: "That's because it's where my partner of the time was living. But there's another reason.

"Sometimes it's hard to return to a city where you have so many brilliant memories.

"In that sense, Glasgow is not an easy city to come back to."

It's not a love affair with Glasgow which prompted Hardeep to write his first stand-up show.

"I was madly in love with a woman at the time so I wrote the show about her," he says.

"Falling in love when you are middle-aged is different from falling in love when you're a teenager.

WHEN you are young and not yet fully formed the experience of love informs love.

"And if you ask a 17-year-old how many people have you been out with in the last year and they say 'Eight' you think that's fine.

"But if a 45-year-old says they've been out with eight people you want to say 'Get over yourself, son.'

"That's because as you get older, and more set in your ways, and more in touch with yourself, it becomes more difficult to meet folk. You have different criteria. And I thought maybe that was the throw of my dice.

"And I figured maybe I'd coast through life having a series of flings, affairs and relationships.

"But then you meet someone and fall in love. However, when you're 17, a relationship moves things on one click. But when you're 45 it's five clicks.

"You're thinking about how the relationship will progress. Or you are gently putting your hand on the tiller to push it in the direction of failure."

No sooner had Hardeep written his show about finding new love at 45, he and the lady split.

It must have been hard to include the detail of that in the stage show?

"Yes, it's tough to get up on stage and talk about a break-up in the white heat of the process.

"But it doesn't even compare to bringing up three kids on family credits. We all need to get a hold of ourselves."

Hardeep's love story has a happy ending. "It just so happens I met someone else. A lassie from Giffnock of all places."

He's happy. Very happy.

"You don't know when it will happen in life," he says, of love's arrival. "It's a bit like Raith Rovers winning a trophy. It can happen when you least expect it."

n Hardeep Is Your Love, the Pleasance Dome (Venue 23) ​August 1 - 11 and 13 - 25.

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