Daliso Chaponda: Blah Blah Blacklist

13/08/19

Gilded Balloon Teviot (Wine Bar), Edinburgh

A heads-up for readers new to Bouquets & Brickbats: Daliso Chaponda is a friend. We don’t usually review our mates’ work (waaaay too awkward), but we transgressed this unwritten rule a long time ago with Daliso, so it seems silly to stop now. Especially when there’s so much to say about his latest show.

Blah Blah Blacklist is deceptively genial: the tone is light, but there’s a controversial undercurrent. The show is about our reactions to fallen heroes: do we need to ‘cancel’ them or can we continue to enjoy their work whilst despising what they’ve done?

But it’s about more than that too. Daliso is an advocate for nuance: Bill Cosby’s criminal activities are beyond the pale, but maybe Louis CK can be redeemed? It’s a brave show in many ways, challenging woke responses as much as racist ones. Daliso has no time for easy answers: this is an intelligent, thought-provoking hour, the gentle, questioning approach belying the force behind it. Oh, and did I mention? It’s very funny too.

The theme is expanded, as Daliso moves from disgraced celebrities to something more personal: his own father (a much-loved government minister in Malawi) is accused of committing a crime. Another potentially fallen hero, and this one much closer to home. He stands by his dad – ‘80% sure he’s as innocent as he claims’ – and witnesses first-hand the ire of those convinced of his guilt.

Daliso has a wider perspective than most: he’s lived in nine countries on four continents; Britain is, he says – despite the polarising views expressed online – the most accepting place he knows. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to let us off the hook…

An astute, perceptive and laugh-out-loud show – you really shouldn’t miss this one.

5 stars

Susan Singfield

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