Daliso Chaponda: Blah Blah Blacklist
- Claire Sawers
- 7 August 2019
Flawed heroes and exposed misconceptions in Malawi comic's intriguing hour
Bathgate comedian Fern Brady used to joke about how many tagines her family owned, when people heard her Scottish accent and assumed she must be working class. Malawi comedian Daliso Chaponda, cheerfully bemused by assumptions that his childhood must have been like an Oxfam advert, jokes that his family owned a Volvo and he learned Latin at private school.
The 2017 Britain's Got Talent finalist ('more Carlton than Fresh Prince') brings a show about fallen or flawed heroes. Bill Cosby, R Kelly and Nelson Mandela all come up, letting Chaponda chat breezily about race and pop culture. After sharing some problematic views (he admits he's been called 'Uncle Tom' by angry, woke black people), the plot thickens when he describes his politician and ex-UN lawyer dad's office being bombed back in Malawi and Daliso hiring a spy to protect him.
The chuckling centrist schtick may have evolved as a strategy to boost his career or pander to British audiences, or maybe it's his way of not coming across as too preachy. It rubs the wrong way in a few bits but there are redeeming moments, like when he drops in a Richard Pryor quote, reminding us that funny moments often come from complex situations.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 26 Aug (not 14), 6.30pm, £12–£14 (£10–£12).