Jamali Maddix has a great show in him. He has the presence, he has the attitude, he hovers round all the right subject matter. But it never quite coalesces into a powerful whole here tonight. Disjointed material is stretched thin around his confident crowd-work, making it a stop-start affair. There isn’t the dynamics, or the build. He keeps promising “fucked up shit” but we never quite seem to get there.
Maddix tops and tails with tales from Hate Thy Neighbor, his Viceland show exploring the rise of the Far Right. His opening sees him reading a social media spat he had with a neo-Nazi. Amusing enough, but you’d find similar browsing any vaguely controversial Facebook thread. His closer is about the time he attended a white supremacist rock gig for the show, material that’s at least 18 months old. He appears to want to trade on the limited fame generated by HTN, but he shouldn’t need the crutch of content from it; there’s no shortage of angles to be had on neo-Nazism.
The controversial stuff which he promises a middle class lady in the front row comes with a dig at white women – how their issues have usurped race in the pecking order of discrimination. It’s little more than that statement though. Once he’s said it and gauged reaction, there’s not much to the follow-up. Similarly, a segment about old school kinkiness seeming old hat to the modern generation is not much more than an idea and an example, before fizzling out into more crowd-work.
That’s what carries Maddix – he talks a great game with the audience. He works the room so confidently, straddling large gaps between anecdotes with such agility, that you barely notice there isn’t the density of material to properly sustain an hour. You could walk out of here having just enjoyed him toying with audience members who are way less cool than him. But if he could marry that easy style with something more substantial or complex, there’s potentially something explosive to be achieved. As it stands, it’s a touch Emperor’s New Clothes.