Dane Baptiste has certainly been creating a name for himself over the past couple of years. He was the first black British act to be nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Award when he received a Best Newcomer nod for his Fringe debut show, Citizen Dane, in 2014. He followed it up in 2015 with the acclaimed and thematically wide-reaching Reasonable Doubts. This year's G.O.D. (Gold, Oil, Drugs) is set to be just as epic.
“While the last show was about me being afraid of losing my soul, the general trend [now] is that most people are pricing theirs up. What seems to be the common link between most of the places I’ve been [on tour to] is that everybody wants everything, so that was the catalyst – how we’ve taken the idea of being made 'in God’s image' to trying to acquire all of Earth’s heavenly delights.”
Baptiste chose comedy because “so far as entertainment, it’s the only thing I think I could do well. My musical ability doesn’t even include the recorder. Comedy offered the opportunity to do a job I loved, but say what I actually think. Standup, in my opinion, is still one of the purer forms of artistic expression.”
Despite the award nod, the Fringe is still whiter than a polar bear sucking a mint imperial in a snowstorm. Does Baptiste feel the weight of that nomination and being one of the few black acts at the Fringe? That he's seen as 'representing' his culture? “I don’t feel the obligation to do so; but I am aware that irrespective of my intentions, for those people at the Fringe who rarely interact with black people, they can potentially see me as a benchmark. I’ll endeavour to create as rounded and balanced a picture of the black experience as possible… but I can only talk from my own perspective.”
So the future looks positive for Baptiste, but what would he like to do in the future, given half a chance? “I'd like to open for Chris Rock’s new tour, meet him and pick the brain of my idol. I’d also like to continue touring the world. Plus writing and performing in some more box-set-worthy scripted projects.” Hope you're listening, telly producers, and Chris Rock too if he should happen to pick up a copy of Fest.