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Daliso Chaponda, Touring review - uneven but entertaining | reviews, news & interviews

Daliso Chaponda, Touring review - uneven but entertaining

Daliso Chaponda, Touring review - uneven but entertaining

Britain's Got Talent finalist on first UK tour

The UK-based Malawian got his big breakthrough after working in comedy for 15 yearsSteve Ullathorne

You may have seen Daliso Chaponda on Britain's Got Talent last year. He came third but, as he says, he was delighted as it brought him to a wider audience after working in comedy for 15 years – and made possible his first UK tour What the African Said

It draws on his peripatetic background (his father was a diplomat); he was born in Zambia, is Malawian by upbringing, spent some of his childhood in Zambia, Kenya and Somalia, and has been resident in the UK for 12 years after studying in Canada.

Chaponda has great stage presence and some fine jokes

He's an instantly likeable performer, permanently smiley and covering every inch of the stage as he paces up and down. He's good with the crowd, too, asking for shoutouts from fellow Africans in the room (I saw the show at Leicester Square Theatre in London), and lobbing in some topical references as they respond.

Chaponda wryly tells us about why he decided not to take part in "Zimbabwe's Got Talent" – because Robert Mugabe would always win, of course. He has a fine line in political comedy (with jokes about slavery and colonialism), and talks about race in an easy, conversational style. However, his examination of how quick we are to condemn people as racists takes a long time to make its point – albeit a good one 

He talks about his childhood and how his strict father once called in a pastor to exorcise him (he was acting up as a teenager), which has a terrific payoff. Chaponda doesn't drink, and didn't realise how weird that makes him in Britons' eyes: “Not drinking in the UK is a personality defect.”

But much of the show is about relationships, wondering why he's single, questioning if he's just not good boyfriend material, and about the limits of Tinder. There are some dodgy references to prostitutes and a joke about being a short guy dating a taller woman descends into crude physical comedy when he demonstrates the practical difficulties of oral sex. This material bears evidence of his being a jobbing club comic for several years.

And while the relationship gags are often hack, there's also a strong whiff of previously used material – not a problem if you're seeing him for the first time, of course – but that suggests either laziness or lack of confidence in his better jokes, particularly the political material. And that's a shame as Chaponda has great stage presence and some fine jokes, and deserves his breakthrough.

Much of the show is about relationships, wondering why he's single, questioning if he's just not good boyfriend material


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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