Kwame Asante: Open Arms

comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Kwame Asante
Published 11 Aug 2017

In a Fringe full of 20-something comedians grappling with their progression into adulthood, Kwame Asante cuts an intriguingly different figure. He positively revels in the responsibilities of adulthood, telling tales of his day job as an NHS junior doctor and the complexities of looking for a flat. To be sure, there is material about relationships, but this too avoids clichés of gender differences on the whole. His mellow demeanour produces an enticing and thoughtful hour that signals his considerable talent.

There's a lightness of touch to his exploration of race that, in the end, gives his experiences more bite. There's a smart sequence where he recounts the three most inappropriate things older patients have said to him while he was administering medical treatment, and this adroitly encapsualtes the persistence of banal, everyday racism. And he ruminates on the relationships between his day job and standup work, wondering if there's a tension between being silly and serious. He's still working himself out, and this ambiguity functions as an original and honest comic voice.

This all leads to an odd ending that tonally jars, and appears to arise more to signal conclusion than to add to Asante's worldview. In it he explains his desire for a UKIP coalition government, outlining the geopolitical consequences if they had to compromise in their stance on immigrants. This feels like comedy written as a sketch more than lived, when what has preceded it has evidenced Asante's skill in finding humour in more relatable topics.