Comedy review: Kwame Asante: Open Arms

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: A classy cut above a typical introductory show, Kwame Asante's debut establishes him as a likeable act whose flaws are at least relatable and entertainingly justified by the dilemmas in his life.

Kwame Asante. Picture: Mark Dawson Photography

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)


Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Of Ghanaian parentage, growing up in the predominantly white London borough of Beckenham, he was subject to some bizarre profiling, the racism richly amusing in its casualness. Volunteering in Ghana, he found the process subverted, with everyone struggling to reconcile his African appearance with his British sensibility.

And he’s really absorbed that fish out of water status, both in his profession as a doctor and in moving from London to the too-friendly-for-his-liking Birmingham, where the locals’ reluctance to offend him and a quirk of feminism have found him participating in wholly inappropriate sports lessons.

From the patients who’ve scammed him, to the confident manner he bluffed when starting his profession, Asante appreciates the titillating value of compromising his professionalism with his doctor’s tales, exemplified by his top three list of inappropriate things that elderly patients have said to him. With a bemused air, he doesn’t overplay the racial awkwardness, even when appropriating a hilarious account that fellow comic Fern Brady was told in school as to why black people have white palms. Lest he appears too virtuous too, he recalls underhandedly trying to blag a new phone and the lies he tells impressionable drunk women, outlandish rather than sleazy.

On the dating scene, mixed race encounters have delivered decidedly mixed results. But now in a relationship, he’s amusingly candid about being a bad boyfriend, his girlfriend in distant third place behind medicine and comedy. It’s to be hoped that Asante can sustain the latter. Because apart from an over-contrived epilogue and limp set-piece about Adele that surely only exists to mix up the hour, this is a calmly assured, impressive performance.

Until tomorrow. Today 6:45pm.