For a man who claims to hate crowd-work, he certainly knows how to handle one. Probably the most interrupted show I’ve seen at this Fringe, from the first gag to the last, people chipped in and spoke and cautiously heckled. None of it was malicious, and Gola subtly encouraged the participation, if only for his own amusement, but it was nevertheless impressive how little he was thrown off, and how hilarious he could be with the audience. It’s clear he was enjoying himself, and what could have been just another performance benefited from the transformative power of well-meaning twats.
Dude, Where’s My Lion is an upbeat, sunny hour of observational comedy, centred on Gola’s home, South Africa. He talks candidly, and amusingly, about race, oppression, and politics without trivialising or downplaying anything. He’s a warm and amiable performer with an inherently optimistic approach to comedy, and what stands out is how nice an hour it is, even when he plays with the more wicked side of his humour. He’s not above a few well-aimed jabs at British culture, and the Fringe that hit the right tone with ease. Despite how placid he can be, he certainly doesn’t shy away from making a point that needs made, and it would be a disservice to call him passive, or to ignore the assertiveness of his act.
There are a few problems with delivery here and there, with Gola not leaning into his gags and punchlines quite so much as I would like, but maybe that would run counter to the easy, likeable way he has with a crowd. He’s a magnetic personality with buckets of empathy, good humour, and a great show too.