Why Daliso Chaponda can't sleep if he doesn't write a joke every day

Daliso Chaponda’s Fringe show Blah Blah Blacklist takes a look at socially “cancelled” celebrities and historical figures that society once admired, but has now decided should be gotten rid of. Daliso first rose to fame on Britain’s Got Talent, where he placed third in 2017. He is also well-known for his BBC Radio 4 series Citizen of Nowhere. He has already lit up stages all over the world, including Edinburgh, Melbourne, Singapore, and Cape Town comedy festivals, and is excited to perform once more at the Edinburgh Fringe.

How would you describe your story in just a few sentences?

My father was a refugee who became a diplomat, so I grew up in lots of different countries. I was always an outsider and this started out as something I was bullied for and hated (about myself). It then became my superpower. It's why I'm funny. I try to write every day and when I don't I don't sleep well. It's the only thing I'm good at.

What or who inspires your work most?

I admire massively productive artists. J. Michael Straczynski wrote three series of a TV show alone. George Carlin did a new show every year. David E Kelley, Aaron Sorkin.... so many more. I admire workhorses who don't wait for inspiration and create art like they work in a gag factory owned by an obese sweatshop owner who doesn't look kindly on slacking.

Who is your main audience?

It's very varied. My African TV appearances bring me lots of Africans, Britains Got Talent brought me a wide cross section of people and some tiny kids, and my Radio 4 show brings me people who fit into neither of those two groups.

How would you describe your professional journey thus far, and where do you expect your career to go? What excites you most?

I started full of optimism and potential. I went from rising star to club comic on the brink of success, to jaded and accepting I'd just be performing in pubs forever. I was OK with that, and then YouTube gave me a second wind so now it could go anywhere. I am either on the way to arenas and television, or I'm a few years away from being in pubs again. I hope for the former, but you can only control so much. All I can do is write hilarious jokes. The moment I get my first laugh excites me most.

What are you most looking forward to at the Fringe this year?

My show is 80 percent written and I'm very excited by this show because it raises more questions than it answers. In previous shows, I always had a stance. This one is fascinating because I discuss stuff there is no easy answer to, and I love having crowds mull over these things. At one point I ask business owners 'would you employ a racist?’ The various responses I've got in previewing the show have been fascinating.

How has your cultural background influenced your comedy?

I am either no cultures or all cultures because I grew up scattered in about 12 countries. Being a cultural chameleon is a very good precursor to being a comedian.

What’s the main message you wish to portray?

No messages this time. Just questions I'd like people to consider. I think I started writing this show because I've seen an increase in people wanting things to be black and white, and avoid complexity and nuance. Actually, I guess I have stumbled into the message for my show. It's all a lot more complex than you want it to be. Also, complexity is beautiful!

How would you describe your Fringe show in five words?

Admiration then disgrace then laughter.

Related Listings

Daliso Chaponda: Blah Blah Blacklist

Daliso Chaponda: Blah Blah Blacklist

Daliso shot to fame on Britain’s Got Talent and has gone on to amass over 100 million YouTube views, write and star in his critically acclaimed Radio 4 show Citizen of Nowhere, and appear on The Apprentice: You’re Fired, News Quiz and The Now Show… 

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