fri 08/12/2023

Emmanuel Sonubi, ArtsDepot review - confessions of a former bouncer | reviews, news & interviews

Emmanuel Sonubi, ArtsDepot review - confessions of a former bouncer

Emmanuel Sonubi, ArtsDepot review - confessions of a former bouncer

Pranks, parenting and cruise ships in the mix too

Emmanuel Sonubi was nominated for this show at last year's Edinburgh Fringe

Emmanuel Sonubi burst on the scene at last year's Edinburgh Fringe, where he was nominated in the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Awards, and has since appeared on the BBC's Live at the Apollo and supported Jason Manford on tour. It's easy to see why he's broken through; the north Londoner is an instantly engaging presence on stage, with a cheeky conversational style that draws the audience in.

He is now touring that nominated show, Emancipated. Its title appears to have little to do with the (at times scattergun) everyday material about parenting, being humiliated by a teaching assistant, working on cruise ships, growing up in a large family and his love of pranks – until a late reveal.

It's when he talks about his previous life as a nightclub bouncer that the show bursts into life. He's a big lad, properly hench, with biceps as big as many people's thighs. But appearances can be deceptive, he tells us; he is terrible at fighting and loves, just loves, musical theatre. “Head full of Disney; face, Crimewatch.”

It's one of a few nods to race and stereotyping in Emancipated; I suspect Sonubi has much more to say on those subjects, but maybe they're for shows to come. I do hope so, because in some of his more reflective moments – wittily presaged by the comic drawing up a stool to sit on, oh so seriously – he shows himself to be an astute observer of humanity.

The show's highlight is a well paced story about why he loved being a bouncer, because it afforded him the opportunity to observe people at play and – more to the point – people at play when they're plastered. He sets the scene well, of how someone accused Sonubi of assault – until the CCTV not only disproved the tale but made a fool of his accuser too.

Sonubi retakes his stool perch to tell another interesting anecdote, about how he suffered heart failure while on stage in 2019. He rather throws this away, moving off the subject without fully mining the detail, but at least it explains the title. After a near-death experience he was, he says, freed from a certain mindset in his life.

I hope he returns to this (and other personal nuggets, such as having five older sisters) in future shows, because – despite some ho-hum material in this hour – Sonubi has real talent, not just to amuse, but to weave thought-provoking stories too.

He shows himself to be an astute observer of humanity


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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