Dane Baptiste only recently entered the orbit of my awareness after his appearance on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order. I found his style a perfect measure of articulate anger that made me laugh and take notice, leaving a lasting impression that prompted me to look him up on Twitter a few days later. It was a good decision as I have since been constantly amused and impressed by his crusades battling internet dickheads (of which there are many).
His Friday night show was completely sold out and after climbing the stairs to the Above room at The Pleasance, I wedged myself into my seat. There was no air conditioning and I immediately regretted wearing a leather jacket as the temperature rose, forcing me to wriggle out of it while apologising profusely as I managed to bump or inappropriately touch everyone sitting around me. N.W.A.’s Dopeman played on the speakers.
Baptiste stepped onto the stage and opened with a tongue-in-cheek proclamation that he is a God. Having recently learned about his successful sitcom and how he made comedy history by being the first Black British comedian to be nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2014, I found myself casually agreeing with his bold opening salvo. God, or G.O.D. (Gold. Oil. Drugs.) was the concept behind the show, which addressed wealth, power and pleasure across its three sections.
What surprised me while listening to Baptiste was how coherent and fast paced his show was. He didn’t waste time going over and over the same stuff – on the contrary, he stormed through his material while consistently delivering fresh perspectives. His unrelenting narrative flow seamlessly connected each section and towed the line between laughter and seriousness perfectly. Sure, sometimes that meant we were presented with tough subjects rather than a punchline or joke but I found that gave the material gravitas and separated it from casual stand up.
My favourite moment came during a segment on the death penalty when Baptiste threw out a question to the audience about what their last meal would be. Both people he asked didn’t know and hadn’t ever thought about such a subject before. “White privilege meal for two!” Baptiste cried, causing a huge collected intake of breath from the audience followed by shocked laughter. (Incidentally Dane, for my last meal I’d have fish and chips from the Gosforth Chippy in Newcastle and a can of Irn Bru).
Photos courtesy of Steve Ullathorne.
Dane Baptiste’s G.O.D. (Gold. Oil. Drugs) runs until 27th August at Pleasance Courtyard, 21:00.