review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

Daliso Chaponda: An African Perspective – Westerners Calm Down! - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

The world comes to Edinburgh every August, but even so Daliso Chaponda is surely the only Malawian comic here. Though now based in Britain, he came via Canada, where he picked up the slick, joke-driven style and easy audience banter of North American comics, without dulling the fact he has a unique perspective on the world.

His exhortation for Westerners to ‘calm down’ is a reference to the fact that what may seem like a major crisis to us – and he means the recession, especially – pales in comparison to the deadly serious problems in Africa. With one foot in each world, this is a decent way of linking both strands of his material with his naturally optimistic outlook.

Every gag here is delivered with a broad grin and an astute social awareness. Yes, there are references to that dreaded word ‘issues’ but done with a playful wit through the eyes of an observational comedian, rather than any one with an inflexible political agenda. He has the air of a black Jerry Seinfeld more than an angry young(ish) man.

There are a few easy jibes here – lots of easy ‘where you from?’ interaction, obvious comments about the homoerotic element of sport or the inaccuracy in describing obesity as an ‘epidemic’ – but there’s a lot more you won’t have heard before. The reverse-racism episode when a white friend stayed with his relatives in Malawi is especially sweet.

The fatalistic Chaponda puts some of himself in the jokes, too, but ensuring his experiences are the set-ups for gags rather than probing too deeply. His father’s shameful family secret, his issues with an ex, and even a traumatic childhood experience are all efficiently processed into punchlines; though an hour-long Fringe show would allow him the latitude to explore these in more depth, if he so wanted.

But he’s not that sort of comic; he has a keen sense of economy that means he usually only wants to impart enough information to make the payoff work, no more, no less. And the gags do work. He is funny. Calm down.

Review date: 15 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.