TRAGEDY PLUS TIME: How has Comedian Dane Baptiste been affected by the Pandemic?
“Comedy is tragedy plus time”
But does Comedian Dane Baptiste agree with that statement? The pandemic had a knock-on effect on Dane, as he had to cancel all of his live events and tour but now in 2021 - his show, ‘Chocolate Chip’ is set to return!
Who is Dane Baptiste?
If you want to understand Dane Baptiste’s philosophy it can be summed up in two words. Question Everything. Which just happens to be remarkably similar to the title of his acclaimed podcast, Dane Baptiste Questions Everything, in which he tackles a diverse range of subjects from politics and theology to ecology and the changing contours of comedy.
“Yes, question everything. I think it's an idea for life in general. I like to describe myself as a knowledge socialist. I feel like knowledge is power and that it should be shared.”
Baptiste is unfiltered, provocative, challenging and the kind of comedian who is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects. His 2017 show, G.O.D. (Gold. Oil. Drugs.) examined the links between power, money and religion:
“Oil floats on water. Just like Jesus...”
Now in his mid-thirties, he is very much a stand-up trailblazer. In 2014 he became the first black British solo comic to be nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer prize at the Edinburgh Fringe for his debut Citizen Dane. The nod meant a lot to him, even though he didn't initially realise the significance of his achievement.
“It definitely helped my career. I don't think I was even aware of nominations before I went up there, but my dad lent me money so the last thing I wanted to do was come home empty handed. I'm very grateful for it. I think it changed the perception of a lot of performers who felt like Edinburgh, maybe from a racial or class perspective, wasn't for them. Although it’s a gift and a curse. Then you have to kind of build on it or you feel the pressure.”
Baptiste’s Edinburgh success helped to land him the BBC Three sitcom Sunny D. He wrote it and played the lead character, a young man in a dead-end office job still living at home with his parents. It was inspired by his youth in Lewisham in South-East London.
“It was pretty autobiographical. The family element was very similar to my parents, who came over from Grenada in 1967. They were a lot stricter than my friends’ parents.”
Comedy was always popular at home and something that brought the family together.
“Police Academy, Russ Abbot, Hale and Pace, Cannon and Ball, French and Saunders. The sketches on Comic Relief…”
His new tour is called Chocolate Chip and tackles race and more from his typically probing perspective.
“My shows always start off being observations on a micro-social level and then on a macro-social level. Chocolate Chip is about the rise of Alt-Right politics and identity politics, mental health issues and body dysmorphia, how trauma affects peoples lives and how racism has been left out of that conversation. Normally if you make any comments about racial inequality or economic inequality people will say you have a chip on your shoulder. So I'm embracing that chip and calling it Chocolate Chip. The world, to Baptiste, is in a bad place at the moment, “If you're not angry you're not paying attention.”
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