tue 23/07/2024

Clinton Baptiste, Touring review - spoof clairvoyant on great form | reviews, news & interviews

Clinton Baptiste, Touring review - spoof clairvoyant on great form

Clinton Baptiste, Touring review - spoof clairvoyant on great form

Character has life beyond 'Phoenix Nights'

Clinton Baptiste is written and performed by Alex Lowe

Clinton Baptiste – clairvoyant, medium and psychic – first appeared briefly as a character in Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights on Channel 4. Alex Lowe has since developed him through Clinton Baptiste’s Paranormal Podcast and his live shows, and now he's touring his latest, Roller Ghoster!, which I saw at Leicester Square Theatre in London.

Baptiste has a cult following, as the extensive tour dates attest, and there are lots of in-jokes his fans are waiting for, including “He's a nonce!” A lot of the character's cultural references come from the 1970s and 80s, making this a lovely and affectionate pastiche of those decades' end-of-pier entertainment that only those of a certain vintage might be able to recall, including a very good Benny Hill gag.

Baptiste is an self-deluding idiot who believes he is a sophisticate, as his greeting to the audience – "Namaste, shalamah, shakattack" – testifies. He enters the stage in a flowing white robe and does some comedy business with its overextended arms, which appear to lengthen as he twirls about. He disrobes to reveal the kind of sparkly suit that every rubbish seaside entertainer once wore, compete with bouffant blond wig that lends a campy vibe to proceedings.

With puns and double entendres galore, Baptiste ruminates on the perils of fame – over-friendly audiences and jealous rivals – but what he really wants to talk about here, he tells us, is Taruak, his “‘Eskimo spirit guide”.

He does a lot of crowd work, where appearing in the guise of someone else means that Lowe can be very rude – but never cruel – to those in the audience he picks on. He's simply passing on message from beyond the celestial curtain, he reminds us with a knowing look to the audience: “I'm just the conduit for my spirit, so don’t shoot the messenger.”

An unfailingly funny gag is when Baptiste, mind reader extraordinaire (not), pretends to know people’s names – by the simple device of asking them and a split second later repeating it and informing them they are correct. It never gets old because it is so well done.

What doesn't work so well is a running joke about an offstage bolshie stage hand, and Baptiste's attempt at singing; the parody doesn't quite hold and the show loses some momentum. But this is a smartly rendered spoof with a high gag count, and great fun.

With puns and double entendres galore, Baptiste ruminates on the perils of fame


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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