Edinburgh Fringe Review: Kwame Asante, Pleasance Courtyard

Kwame Asante has been nominated for a lastminute.com Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer. See nominees here.

Kwame Asante is the kind of performer who immediately puts you at ease. He is a commanding, confident and friendly figure onstage with plenty to talk about. His show lasts an hour but the time absolutely flies by. 

If there is a fault it is that this is one of those my-favourite-anecdotes sets which slightly lacks cohesion. Asante is a junior doctor with the NHS so could probably do a whole show about that, but instead he has just cherry-picked things from his life on and off the wards that are funny.

So we get stories about him volunteering in Ghana (he has a Ghanaian background but is from Beckenham in south London), stories about moving to Birmingham, stories about the ups and downs of dating. Even a weird story about him being mistaken for Adele (go figure).  

As I said it is never less than engaging. Towards the end he touches on the fact that he is torn between pursuing comedy or medicine. Maybe the same indecision bleeds into his act. He doesn’t quite know whether to commit to a narrative about himself or a polemic about the state of the NHS.

He clearly has first-hand experience of the latter and his Edinburgh debut concludes with an anecdote that both highlights what a fantastic job the NHS is doing and also how we are living in a time where people have such an obscene sense of entitlement they will complain about the slightest thing even when you’ve just stopped them from being in excruciating pain. It is also, I should add, an extremely funny anecdote which will make men in the audience squirm as well as laugh.

I would imagine that with his comedy career taking off Asante will be forced to choose between medicine and mirth soon. I expect mirth will win.

Kwame Asante: Open Arms is at Pleasance Courtyard until August 27. Tickets here.


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