The Attic, Pleasance Courtyard
Material : Delivery : Laughs :
Jamali Maddix strutted out from behind a black curtain to the sound of the Wu Tang Clan. I don’t think the sixty-something Scottish couple in the front, Rod and his wife, knew what they were in for. In fact, they certainly had no idea what was about to befall them over the next hour. I like to think of myself of a a reasonably hip mum with teenagers who allow me to at least try to keep up with them, so I wasn’t phased by his constant use of the F-word and winding up the crowd about racial, sexual and political matters. Poor Rod, though, the Tory voting Scotsman who became more and more red faced as he gritted his teeth in polite rage, really got it in the neck as the constant barrage of jokes came at his expense. I was glad I was tucked away in the second row and not picked on for anything at all. I must have looked sympathetic. ‘I’m an arsehole’, the twenty-five year old Londoner kept saying, ‘I’m an arsehole’, just to make sure everyone cut him some slack before he went for them. And we generally did. Apart from Rod.
Jamali, immediately likeable and entertaining, launched into the laughable absurdity of us Britons holding on dearly to emblems of a rich and powerful empire; most of which we have now of course lost. He likened having the Queen as figurehead to a business man who’s become homeless, but ‘still wears the suit’. None of the topics were much of a surprise for a young mixed-race London man, but apart from losing Rod’s gameness and sympathy half-way through, he played well with the audience members who remained game. I would think it difficult playing to an almost all-white audience when your subject matter can offend and stir up some awkwardness in his punters. He was apologetic in his manner, even statements of non-apology, if that makes any sense at all. But that wasn’t going to stop him saying what he had come to say. His timing was super tight and his delivery punchy, and you could easily imagine him as the annoying friend who pesters you as you about to sleep with a ‘story that you absolutely must hear, right now’ and looks way too eager to think of turning down. Timely jokes peppered his chat; about UKIP, Brexit and suicide bombers. The voice of the urban young; suggesting that letting people over 50 vote because ‘they’re going to die before they see the thing they wanted’, a bit like a suicide bomber.
He did make some serious, thought-provoking points along the way. Noting that in our first-world lifestyles, we unwittingly support slavery. Just imagine he says, the plantation owner saying ‘of course I’m morally opposed to slavery, but I really like having my lemonade served.’ He really pushed us into a corner with that one. He whipped through the barrenlands of internet porn, the absurdity of our society where breasts are used to promote products instead of feeding babies, and the equating of capitalism with prostitution.
He lost the crowd momentarily as he launched into a sentimental vignette about his mother, which didn’t seem to have anything to do with comedy at all, but a brief baring of his vulnerable side. He pulled us back with some self-deprecating jokes about taking drugs with his pals and then getting on the straight and narrow. He ended almost wistfully, remembering the time when a brick hit his head in a ridiculous life event, but ultimately brought him back to wise decisions. “As you get to decide what you’re gonna do next”. I expect Rod wished he could have taken that on board about five minutes into the show and quietly left.
Maddix definitely provoked some good old honest belly laughs, but is geared to a young audience who can easily handle our modern swaggering vulgarity and in-your-face attitude. As he gets used to handling the varied personalities in an audience, I’m fairly sure he will use his intense bundle of bearded energy into amusing larger and larger crowds, and punching them in the face with a fresh and urgent perspective. One to watch.
Reviewer: Lisa Williams