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Daliso Chaponda: What the African Said

at Gilded Balloon at the Museum

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Brilliant, bold and provocative observational comedy

Image of Daliso Chaponda: What the African Said

Walking onto the stage with a beaming smile and thanking the audience that he’s relieved that we’ve turned out on a wet, Sunday night, you can’t help but warm to this comedian. With his engaging smile and gap teeth, we’re intrigued to hear what the African has to say.

Amanda Holden’s golden buzzer act at Britain’s Got Talent, Malawian-born stand-up Daliso Chaponda came third in 2017, capturing the nation’s hearts and garnering over eight million views on Facebook and nine million on YouTube. He tells us he was “quite pleased” with his third place – equating it to the first white guy reaching a similar place in a British 100m.

His comedy is self-deprecating and centres much on his African heritage. Addressing the reason why he didn’t enter Zimbabwe’s Got Talent, he puts this down to the fact that no matter how many people voted, Mugabe would have always won. As he says, “he might not have got away with that joke previously, but it’s safer to say it now.”

He’s quick to engage with the audience and ribs two late-comers, a Cameroonian and a Ghanaian, who promptly sit in the front row, that “C’mon guys, we need to show these white people how to behave”.

Having lived in nine different countries, he has a good ability for observation and weaves this into his comedy, acknowledging countries’ stereotypes. He blames his British schooling in Malawi, which taught him French, Latin and English but no African languages and British history as the reason why he’s intrigued to practice his art in the UK. “If you don’t want me here, you should have taught us Japanese,” he says, blaming the Establishment.

With his journalist background, he loves a play on words. One of the clever jokes he has been banned from doing on TV by three producers – despite it leaving them in stitches – involves the Paralympics and paratroopers and shows his strong command for the English language.

Race, religion and slavery feature predominantly in his set. His story about taking a white girl on a first date to the Liverpool Slavery Museum gets a huge laugh at its incongruousness, as does the fact that he buys a “I Love Liverpool” tote bag from the museum shop, which he concludes is rubbing salt into the whole slavery wound when he notices the “100% cotton” label.

He doesn’t set out to offend and if he has, he would rather we talk to him, rather than getting “pissed off on other’s people’s behalf” and taking to social media and trolling him. Some of his stories sail quite close to the bone, such as the sexual molestation he suffered at the hands of an uncle, yet he still manages to raise a genuine laugh.

Brilliantly bold and a thoroughly, engaging provocative performance, Chaponda doesn’t take life too seriously and has an astute awareness about the world around us, which makes us laugh with him and not at him.