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25th Nov 2018

COMEDY NIGHT: Why you need to see… Dane Baptiste

'Dane Baptiste slips in jabs of truth and knowledge in between big punches of laughter. You feel the immediate hit of the gag, but with the lingering aftertaste of "Fuck, he's right."'

Nooruddean Choudry

Who: Dane Baptiste

Where: Gorilla, Manchester


Watching Dane Baptiste’s stand-up, what soon becomes apparent are the subtle but telling differences between his on-stage persona and off-stage identity. Of course it is common for comic’s to portray a heightened and sometimes altered version of themselves, but with Baptiste it is more noticeable.

That’s because, unlike many of his peers, he is an important voice away from the spotlight. Through social media and his involvement in the excellent Quota’s Full podcast, Baptiste expresses himself in a more acerbic and cutting way. He is still funny and always engaging, but there’s a harder edge to what he has to say.

On stage, it is clear that he has made a conscious decision to sugar the pill with self-effacing charm and a clever lightness of touch. Baptiste’s set covers topics as weighty as race, religion, capitalism, politics, sexism and empire, and yet at no point does it feel like a TED Talk or the haughty moralising of a know-it-all.

Instead Baptiste slips in jabs of truth and knowledge between big punches of laughter. He explains that he is “here to observe, not to judge” as he presents a series of hypocrisies and inequalities most of us just blindly accept. You feel the immediate hit of the gag, but with the lingering aftertaste of “Fuck, he’s right.”

Take the very pertinent subject of transphobia. Baptiste elicits huge guffaws for assuming the term ‘gender fluid’ is a reference to cum, before wondering why non-binary identification is such an issue now when the 80s gave us The Cure, New Romanticism and Grace Jones. On the uproar of how we’ll possibly adapt to shared toilets, he asks: “What, like in your fucking house?”

As much as G.O.D. highlights a number of pressing macro issues, some of the micro elements show the most flair. Baptiste’s forensic analysis of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ is a joy, whilst his tales of life on the dole – from attempting to pull at the Job Centre to drinking all his mum’s Tropicana – are wonderfully observed.

Baptiste is clearly a very clever man who never allows himself to slip into the trap of conceit. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but instead focuses on asking all the right questions. Even his faux braggadocio is undercut with the self-own: “You’re looking at a young, black, hundred-aire…”

Ultimately, Baptiste is a socially-conscious auteur who fully utilises his platform without forgetting why he’s there – to entertain and make people laugh.

We saw Dane Baptiste at Gorilla in Manchester. You can find out more about his future dates here.