Mixed Reception For Dane.

Dane Baptiste

Walker Theatre

Saturday 8th October 2016

 

Pre-cursed by Eshaan Ackbar the evening of comedy got off to a polite start. Eshaan delivered a twenty minute support set and it seems, took the audience a little by surprise. Fair to say this surprise worked against him as the audience were still wondering where he fitted into all things.

His act continued undaunted and several of the audience did laugh. How a comedian has impacted is usually measured in column inches.

So on we go to the next act; the top of the bill, Dane Baptiste.

Relatively new to the scene Baptiste, who was first noticed on the Edinburgh Fringe is predicted to be the best next thing in Black British Comedy.  Looking at issues such as War, Inter-Racial Society, Fast Foods and Celebrity he asked some funny and probing questions.

Sometimes astute and observational, sometimes poignant and sometimes anecdotal; Baptiste’s material one feels, will be received differently where ever he is playing. It might be smart to tailor his act to suit the demography but more of that later.

After Ackbar had been politely clapped off the stage there was a twenty minute break where the audience was treated to hard core rap music at full volume peppered with  references on how much the artist thought his friends demonstratratively “loved their mothers,” to an almost machine gun staccato of profanities linked with the “N,” word. Words that don’t come up often in Middle England civilised theatre going society. It was possibly deemed offensive by some.

That obviously meant that for some, Baptiste started on the back foot. If the music was part of the show it was appallingly inappropriate. We all enjoy the odd profanity but always judge our audience before we use them…..surely?

It does raise the issue why can some comedians get away with strings of racist words that some other comedians might not get away with? Why, because one is of Caribbean descent but English by birth, does one feel it’s acceptable to rake up issues of race that we put to bed years ago?  Why is it that when some comedians use the “N,” word the audience laughs, and yet if said by a different white comedian he would be arrested and defiled?  Or at the very least booed of the stage. A question worthy of discussion one feels.

It doesn’t matter who uses an offensive word, there is no immunity from the wrath that should follow the use of them after they have been said. If it is to suggest that this use of  language is going to be the shape of things to come, our beautiful descriptive language will die. In its place we will find everything that’s trashy and worthless.

Ethnicity jokes notwithstanding, Baptiste did reach the bulk of the audience and they went home mostly entertained and amused, but there were no belly laughs, nobody seemed to laugh all the way through. Not one strand of laughter reached above all others and continued joke after joke after joke. Maybe the audience were slightly shell-shocked by some of the references that they didn’t think were ok.

Baptiste one believes will be around for a while. He’s got a great television face and an admirable television presence, however it’s time to drop the race jokes and just get on with making people laugh. At this time there is enough tension in the world. If the edges keep being blurred nothing will be worth anything.

This is a three star review.

Owen J.Lewis    

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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