Last year’s best newcomer nominee, Dane Baptiste has seen his career steadily ascend with a BBC Feed My Funny pilot and favourable critical reviews. There’s a strong crowd who’ve come to see him, some returning audience members, some who must have been swayed one way or another, from my angle some elderly audience members who picked wrong.
There’s a casual calmness to Dane as he enters the stage, which makes him easy viewing. I tend to take a slight reservation with many comedians whose material is self-referential to their appearance as in my opinion requires more skill to be more observational. Whilst discussing the negative connotations society and media have constructed of being black along with the contradictions of diversity, it just feels like a tired rhetoric. Dane does better than most but it’s okay. These early observations doesn’t offer much in terms of an original or fresh perspective. Thankfully Dane eventually steps away from this and moves up a gear.
Venturing off into observations regarding social behaviours, faith systems, and capitalism, it illustrates the arsenal of Dane’s comedic weaponry, as he mixes satire with some whimsical quips. But too often there are long set ups that don’t have a climax to satisfy the build-up. By the end of the show, the majority of the audience seem satisfied. Reasonable Doubts exemplifies that Dane is very good at his craft with some well-placed call-backs in the third sector, which gives some justification to the opening. It would seem he’s tried very hard to construct a good show, with many ingredients, but the final dish is somewhat shy of being Michelin star. All in all, Reasonable Doubts is a decent hour of comedy but is nothing high-octane to really stand out in this festival.