Daliso Chaponda

Richard Herring: RHLSTP

17/08/19

The Stand’s New Town Theatre (Grand Hall), Edinburgh

Let’s face it, it’s a pretty poor Fringe without some Richard Herring in it. His was the first show I saw on my first ever visit to the Fringe (Christ On a Bike; The Second Coming) and I’ve been a firm fan ever since. Okay, so this year, he hasn’t brought a new comedy show to Edinburgh, but he is doing daily recordings for his podcast, RHLSTP – and, as luck would have it, he’s talking to one of B&B’s friends, Malawian comedian, Daliso Chaponda. Win win.

RHLSTP is a regular thing in our lives these days, and it’s fascinating to watch a recording and know that we’ll be listening back to it on our phones in a day or so. The New Town Theatre is rammed today. (The last act we caught here? Er… Jeremy Corbyn.) It’s a Saturday and, come to think of it, we’ve never seen the Fringe quite as busy as it is right now. The streets are so bustling, it’s hard even getting to the venue.

A somewhat slimmer Richard Herring resides on an ornate wooden throne, fitting for the self-styled ‘King of the Fringe.’ First up is comedian Sunil Patel, a charming and laid back chap, whose show, White Knight (he says he regrets that title), is showing daily at 2.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker). He looks somewhat nonplussed by his Emergency Question. What would it take to persuade him to fellate the actor Keith Allen? Hmm. Answer: A trip to Japan. Okay.

But its Daliso we’re really here to see, particularly after catching his fascinating and challenging show Blah Blah Blacklist at The Teviot Wine Bar (6.30pm daily). Here’s a link to our earlier review:  https://bouquetsbrickbatsreviews.com/2019/08/14/daliso-chaponda-blah-blah-blacklist/

As RHLSTP is a podcast featuring interviews with (mostly) comedians, there are different interviewees every day, so be sure to check the schedule carefully before booking. Daliso makes a perfect match for Richard’s easygoing interviewing technique, delving into his influences and, I’m sure, winning over a lot of new fans in the process. His best Emergency Question? What artefact from any museum would he like to keep? Daliso chooses the Liverpool Museum of Slavery and opts for…  a Ku Klux Klan uniform. Unexpected, to say the very least. To find out why, you’ll have to listen when the podcast…

So, go catch RHLSTP. You’ll have a whale of a time. And it’s funnier than Mr Corbyn.

4.5 stars

Philip Caveney

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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

Daliso Chaponda: What the African Said

27/04/18

Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

There’s a curious dilemma to be considered whenever you are planning to write a review of somebody you know. Daliso Chaponda is a longtime friend of Bouquets & Brickbats and, naturally, we worry that people are going to think that we’ll inevitably big him up, because… well, he’s a mate. On the other hand, do we choose to ignore one of the funniest comedy shows we’ve seen in ages? In the end, we decide to review and be damned. Hey, what’s the worst that can happen? Some mean remarks on Twitter? We can live with that.

Of course, we’ve followed Daliso’s career since earlier days, when he was gamely plugging his way around the intimate comedy venues of the UK. But a lot has changed since then. In 2017, he came third in the 11th series of Britain’s Got Talent and naturally, it brought him to much wider attention – hence this UK tour entitled What the African Said. The Queen’s Hall is packed out with eager punters and, from the moment he walks onto the stage, he has the audience in the palm of his hand.

I find myself pondering what has changed since those early days. Not that much, really. His delivery is perhaps a little more exaggerated, allowing him to milk every line for ultimate comic effect and, though he’s always been supremely confident, he now has the kind of ease with an audience that surely only comes from steady touring. His material still ranges from the controversial (an always amusing – and sometimes challenging – African perspective on our cosy white privilege) to the mildly saucy (the trials and tribulations of dating, replete with descriptions of a sexual nature). He gets away with the latter, mostly because of his appealing persona – did he really say that? I think he did! He’s adept too at making you see familiar situations in an entirely different light.

He gives us a lengthy and very wide-ranging set, a good eighty minutes in duration, and it doesn’t flag for a moment. Indeed, he leaves the audience vociferously shouting for more and, when all is said and done, that’s the ultimate sign of a successful comedy show.

His  tour continues across the UK, culminating in August with a week at the Edinburgh Festival. If he comes to a venue near you, do yourself a favour. Grab a ticket and head down there. I’m willing to bet you’ll have a very good time… unless of course, you’re one of those people who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh. In which case, this really isn’t for you.

5 stars

Philip Caveney 

 

 

Stand Up for Shelter

09/08/17

Underbelly, George Square

The Udderbelly is packed with eager comedy fans who’ve all turned out to support a very worthy cause. MC Suzi Ruffell tells us we’ve already raised over four grand for Shelter just by buying tickets, so we can feel good about ourselves as we laugh. In addition, showcase events like these are a great way of sampling a varied selection of comedians. Because of their brief time allocation, we’re usually left wanting more – but luckily, that’s easily fixed as most of them have their own shows at the Fringe. Ruffell is a lively MC, who communicates well with the audience and handles the inevitable late arrivals with aplomb – then, without further ado she introduces the first act.

We’ve actually seen Richard Herring’s excellent Edinburgh show, Oh Frig, I’m 50!, twice already (we took my parents to his first preview, then went again for reviewing purposes a few nights later), so we’re expecting to find this short set a little over-familiar. Luckily for us, he delivers different material here, and he’s as hilarious, irreverent and charming as ever. A great way to start the show.

We’ve heard Desiree Burch on the fabulous Guilty Feminist podcast, and it’s lovely to finally see her live. As the title of her Fringe show, Unfuckable, suggests, she’s not an act for the prudish: she’s rude and funny, with charisma-aplenty. Good stuff.

Sara Pascoe is of course, another Fringe stalwart. Here she talks mostly about Marks and Spencer knickers and the time when she had the misfortune to be wearing the same ones as her ex’s mother. Her quirky, intelligent take on the world is as evident here as always, and she’s as marvellous as you’d expect.

We’re delighted to see our friend Daliso Chaponda  doing so well since his BGT appearance earlier this year – he’s finally getting the attention he deserves. He absolutely smashes this gig, drawing actual applause from the crowd for gag after gag. He’s pretty hard-hitting, and doesn’t shy away from controversial subject matter (here he focuses on recent news stories about public figures using ‘the N word’ and how context changes everything) but he’s so charming and affable that it’s hard to imagine he could ever offend. It’s a shame he’s been given such a short slot, as the audience is clearly up for a lot more. He’s embarking on a tour early next year, and it’s definitely going to be worth checking him out.

Dan Antopolski treats us to some excerpts from a 50 Shades of Grey type novel that he’s working on. As you might expect, this is salacious stuff, made ridiculous by its over-attention to detail. It’s slyly funny and makes us giggle.

James Acaster ambles out, and makes amiable chit-chat for a few minutes. The conceit here is that he hasn’t bothered preparing, and he keeps looking at his watch, giving us a running countdown until his time is up. It’s a nice idea, and works well for him, perfectly suiting his comedic persona. Even the silences and sighs are funny; he has us all on side.

It’s left to Ed Byrne to close out the show in his own inimitable style. He tells us he only found out about this gig ten minutes before he was due on stage and has run all the way here, but since he has a little longer to stretch out than the earlier acts, he connects really successfully with the audience and his stories about the trials of  fatherhood and his planned vasectomy have us all laughing our socks off. It’s a satisfying end to proceedings, though inevitably it’s overrun and we have to leg it to our next gig.

It is a real treat to see so many great comedians on one bill – and Shelter really is an important cause. Recent news stories about increasing levels of homelessness in Britain (it’s set to double by 2041 according to some reports) show that this is actually no laughing matter. You can donate here: https://england.shelter.org.uk/donate

4.5 stars

Susan Singfield & Philip Caveney

Stand Up For Sarah

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The Comedy Store, Manchester

22/07/15

Smoke machines. What are they all about? The people who run the Comedy Store, Manchester own one and they’re not afraid to use it. It spills out a smelly fug of chemicals as we take our seats for tonight’s show and, as we’ve chosen positions near the front, the effect is a bit like sitting in the midst of an army of people smoking Capstan full strength. It creates no special atmosphere whatsoever. Unless you think a dodgy smell is something to savour. Just saying.

Tonight’s show if for a special cause – Thameside nurse, Sarah Swindells has terminal cancer and the entertainers are raising money to pay for some special treatment which is not available on the National Health. All the performers have donated their talents free of charge and there’s an encouraging turnout for a midweek event.

Thankfully, the smoke machine takes a break and out strolls our MC for the evening, veteran comedian Mick Ferry. He’s been around the block and knows just how to work an audience. An Australian visitor is singled out for some choice taunts (mostly the fact that he’s wearing more layers than everyone else) and a luckless tattooed  Mancunian builder called Billy is elected to start the applause but becomes the butt of several jokes, because he keeps wandering off to replenish his drinks. If an MC’s remit is to warm up the crowd, Ferry manages it expertly and introduces the first proper act of the evening.

Justin Moorhouse has also been around the block a bit. Some of his observations about his ‘other half’ feel a little over familiar. Lines like ‘you start off riding a bucking bronco, then find yourself straddling a leathery old cow,’ are clearly not intended to endear him to the feminists in the audience, but he settles into a better groove when talking about the ever-expanding universe. His impersonation of Stephen Hawking (sounding rather more like Kermit the frog) brings the house down.

Next up, Joe Lycett takes the stage, coming on like an oafish bellowing lager lout and my heart sinks; but it’s a clever bit of misdirection. He promptly starts talking in his ‘real’ voice, explaining that’s he’s just come from a stag party and that he’s simply been exhibiting learned behaviour. His camp, bitchy tone puts me in mind of the late, great Kenneth Williams, while his scattergun approach to comedy keeps taking us in unexpected directions. If there’s a prize for the most inventive comic of the evening, he wins it hands down and a joke about the chastity belts features in Mad Max: Fury Road is filthy but hilarious.

After a short break – and another unwelcome appearance by that bloody smoke machine – the event continues. The oddly named Penella Mellor wanders on and delivers a beautifully constructed routine on a somewhat controversial topic – children and how much she hates them. And, having established that there are several primary school teachers in the audience, she goes on to explain how they are responsible for making children even more annoying. Her deadpan serious expression as she delivers gems like; ‘ a margarine tub sprayed silver is not an acceptable birthday present – especially when I checked and there was a spa day on Groupon,’ has the audience (including the aforementioned teachers) in stitches.

Our final act of the evening is Daliso Chaponda. (I have to come clean at this point and admit that Daliso is a longstanding friend and he’s probably the main reason why we’re here tonight.) He hails from Malawi and much of his humour derives from canny observations where he compares the culture of his homeland to that of the UK. With Daliso, it’s all in the delivery. His distinctive voice and his range of accompanying animated expressions really help to sell the material. One lady sitting a few seats away from me is laughing so hysterically, I start to worry that she must be struggling to breathe. Daliso’s material is also somewhat ruder than I remember, but his charming air of innocence as he delivers the more risqué lines means that he can get away with murder. All in all, it’s a fine set which brings this memorable show to its conclusion.

An entertaining evening of laughter, all in aid of a really worthwhile cause. Whats not to like? (Apart from the smoke machine.)

4 stars

Philip Caveney