Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Dane Baptiste: Reasonable Doubts, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jay Richardson.
Resonating with ideas, not a little attitude and some stylish phrase-coining, Dane Baptiste eclipses the promise of his 2014 debut, consolidating his reputation as an act to watch.
Since his Edinburgh Comedy Award best newcomer nomination, he’s charted lowly but nonetheless identifiably in the black British celebrity index, bringing with it an attendant anxiety about the trajectory of his career and personal life.
Smoothly relating his individual concerns to those of society generally, he’s particularly penetrating on race, questioning the advances of diversity, toying with white ignorance and amusingly subverting the expectations of black people to “represent”.
In his hands, the black-men-are-well-endowed stereotype is not so much overturned as brazenly exploited, with clever phrasing and self-awareness of his crassness the justification.
Theorising, he showboats intellectually with an analysis of the role of McDonald’s in US imperialism.
But he oversells a routine on the general public imbuing celebrities with divinity-like powers, no amount of withering sarcasm changing the fact that reality show material has to be outstandingly perceptive, so soft is the target.
Since his first show, he’s introduced more dialogue-heavy little scenarios into his repertoire.
The best recreates his adolescent relationship with his virginity and libido, familiar sentiments afforded vitality and sustained laughs thanks to the pained quality of his performance and a self-effacing vulnerability, starkly contrasting his surface assurance and occasional flashes of comic irritability. As he matures as a comic, the Fringe-imposed appearance of a structure makes Baptiste’s material seem less disparate than it is. But there’s scarcely a weak routine in the hour and pretty much any of them could stand alone in a club set.
His ongoing rise up the comedy ladder appears as assured as his ascension up the charts of Black British recognisability.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 13 August 2015
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