Tony Hendriks – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

As the stereotypical Jamaican, Tony Hendriks is a laid back and friendly performer. Unlike the stereotypical Jamaican, he’s white.

His skin colour perhaps shouldn’t come as any surprise. After all the island’s indigenous people weren’t black, it was Britain’s shameful slave trade that made the population what it is today – a brief history he covers in his act. At times, it’s an education.

Questions of racial identity and insights into West Indian life form some of the best parts of his act, and some of the worst. When he touches upon, for example, the rampant homophobia  of his homeland or the chasm between plush resort hotels and genuine island life, it’s both fascinating and funny.

But that’s all he seems to do, touch on the subject. Hendriks, who’s nicknamed Paleface, has the charisma and presence to be able to delve into genuinely fascinating topics, and still hold the attention and the laughs.

Instead, he’s just as likely to go for the much easier laugh of affecting an exaggerated Jamaican accent, animated by his wonderfully expressive face, but essentially just a laugh at how foreigners speak. His by-the-book routine about how crazy it would be if car navigation systems had different accents is the nadir of this sort of lazy humour.

Into the stylistically skittish mix of the interesting and the obvious goes some entertaining anecdotes and a healthy dollop of easy-going banter, which often meanders but usually uncovers some winning, quick-witted  comebacks, even if the route to them is sometimes circuitous.

By covering so many bases, Hendriks is almost sure to have something you’ll like, topped with a likeable manner. But ultimately he’s doing a lot of things quite well,  rather than anything brilliantly.  

Review date: 1 Nov 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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