Dane Baptiste is a confident performer. Neither annoyingly cocky nor desperate to please, he has the easy knack of interacting with his audience, verbally bouncing off them to great comic effect. That said, he has a specific story to tell; the show is called Citizen Dane for a reason. The spine of this show is his own life, focused most sharply on his ongoing quest to find a way and a place in which he could “fit in”; a process which involved attempting to find the right kind of role models and heroes to confirm his own his place in the world.
Nuanced, thoughtful, and sharper than you might think, he’s a talent who is definitely on the way up.
Arguably, much of Baptiste’s material could be described as standard stand-up fare; a lot of what he covers is about relationships (especially within families), job applications , and his youthful “chocolate chip on the shoulder”. Oh, and human (especially male) genitalia, of course. Yet his presentation is both personal and mellow, though this shouldn’t lull you into a false sense of security. Baptiste can still throw you some genuinely wonderful observations that are best heard in their original context. And he’s already gifted when it comes to confounding audience expectations about where a particular story might go.
Given his background—his parents emigrated from Grenada to the UK in the 1960s—Baptiste necessarily touches on racism, easily unpicking the simplistic fears arising from immigration-inspired xenophobia which appears to be rising in parts of the UK. And he also accepts the materialistic personality of his childhood self.
The picture you have of Baptiste by the close of this show is of a man with his head firmly on his shoulders, who has come to some conclusions about life but is still prepared to learn and to then share what he has learned. Nuanced, thoughtful, and sharper than you might think, he’s a talent who is definitely on the way up. That this is his first solo Edinburgh show is quite remarkable.