Venue: Beside, Pleasance Courtyard
Up-and-coming comic Dane Baptiste offers up an hour of second guessing in Reasonable Doubts, a slickly confident, intelligent and inventive set of observations with a political kick. Baptiste’s set traverses itself well to provide points of recurrence and cross reference, but his delivery does not yet have the settled security of a seasoned performer – it’s too easy to hear a scripted set coming through, and it costs the broadly strong material some bigger laughs.
There really is plenty to love about the hour of high-energy first world whinging, especially Baptiste’s intelligent approach to well-covered issues. His thoughts on diversity, class and race are thrown around with plenty of original wit, and a closing sequence about recruiting a hit team to collect the 10 million pound sum on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s head and still making less than Kim Kardashian is played out with bags of style. The show scribbles some more innovative sketches to compliment the comic social commentary – “I might’ve over-thought that scenario” is Baptiste’s charming bathetic refrain – and a particular highlight is a genius sibling rivalry exchange between Jesus and Adam, with the former hurling “you haven’t even got a belly button bruv!” for big laughs. He builds to a punchline about iPhones having replaced God and faith, and finds smaller but better won laughs in jokes about the Apple messing everything up again.
He clearly knows what he’d doing well enough – there’s a comfortable number of punchlines per minute and there are only one or two lulls in the flow of a well received set. Yet it’s a little frenetic at times, so much so that it feels like Dane’s trying to cram a longer show into the time-frame. A few ideas that would benefit from being drawn out a little more – why Catholicism is the party faith, young people’s failure to understand growing up in the 90s – are garbled and lost in his rush to get onto the next section.
He’d do well to sacrifice a segment and mine some of his meatier ones – powering along is part of his appealing style, but when it starts to feel like it’s actually slowing down a set, it’s time to tweak things a little. It’s a show well worth seeing because the material is there, but the delivery needs more room to breathe.