You have to be joking? Kwame Asante


The joke that you loved but no one else did?

I had (/have, because I’m still keeping the faith!) a joke about a Kiwi flatmate I used to live with when I was at uni in London. He came into the kitchen one morning and said ‘Kwame, I had the most wonderful dream last night! I dreamt that I was black for a day!’. I asked him what he got up to during the dream and he said ‘Nothing’.

What do you mean nothing?’

Well, nothing really…’ as he went on to describe a mundane day full of local errands and household tasks.

By the end of his story it became clear that being black was the only novel aspect of the dream, and I joked about the idea that his subconscious thinking simply being black was interesting enough to be the premise of an entire dream is the greatest compliment I’ll ever receive. I really like the joke; there’s definitely something there (!!!) but I could never quite get the reaction I wanted from the audience. I’m very much open to any suggestions on how to make it work, because it’s been driving me nuts for years now!

The joke that worked but you are not so proud that it had?

When I started out on the London open mic circuit, my only objective was to get a laugh, with less of an emphasis on what material suited my own style and comfort zone. One of the cornerstones of my early set was a joke about one suffering from immature ejaculation (like premature ejaculation, but with childlike enthusiasm and amusement). It worked, but never really fit in with the rest of the stuff I talked about on stage (which was relatively more high brow – not a difficult ask at the time!) I can’t watch a lot of that set back now without cringing, but I’m glad I had material I was confident enough in to keep getting me up on stage long enough for me to finally discover my voice.

The comedian(s) that made you want to be a comedian?

The first comedian I listened to was Jack Dee. I stumbled across him by chance; a CD of one of his comedy specials came free with my parents’ newspapers and I had just gotten a new CD player and was keen run anything and everything through it.

It was in that sweet-spot of the late 90s / early 00s where lots of CD players were portable, but not all of them were jogproof (clearly a covert government scheme to train the youth of the era in the art of stealth movement). I remember taking the CD upstairs and listening to it in secret in my bedroom. I was too young to truly appreciate Jack’s deadpan rants about middle-aged monotony, but I was totally in awe of the art of live storytelling. From there I went on to the works of Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Al Murray and Dane Cook. Not necessarily the natural progression, but it was my one, and the comics that keep me in comedy are just as diverse. I appreciate the bold brashness of Bill Burr, the openness and intelligence of Hannah Gadsby and the heartwarming honesty of Mike Birbiglia.

The last thing that made you cry with laughter?

I’ve recently been listening to the back-catalogue of Patton Oswalt’s comedy albums, and kicking myself that I didn’t discover them sooner. His special ‘Finest Hour’ literally had me on my knees in stitches (thankfully I was in the comfort of my own flat at the time). It was recorded in 2011 and still totally relevant today- a timeless classic.

Kwame Asante: Teenage Heartblob

Pleasance Courtyard – The Cellar


August 1st– 26th (not 15th)

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