Fashion model, actor, activist – is there anything Eunice Olumide can’t do? Well, on the evidence of her fringe comedy debut AfroPolitiCool, her standup skills need polish. Her laudable ambition with the show is to offer an overview of global politics from the distinctive perspective of an Afro-Scot. Here is a woman whose identity has confused nearly everyone, from her schoolteachers, via visiting aunties from Nigeria, to black Brixtonians confounded by her Trainspotting accent. That’s the stuff of the show’s opening 10 minutes, which are promising, not least because Olumide has charisma to burn.
What she doesn’t have is a coherent show, or remotely well-developed jokes. Practically every routine, to the degree that they even coalesce into routines, is several drafts shy of effectiveness. Boris Johnson’s hair looks like a toilet brush. Joe Biden is old. China is taking over Africa and, er, the chicken shops are in danger of turning into Chinese restaurants. This flimsiness is a shame, because I would love to hear some thought-through comedy about China in Africa, or Ukraine through an anti-racist lens, or the teaching of critical race theory – all of which Olumide mentions, but hasn’t written (m)any jokes about.
While the gig plays out to sparse laughter, Olumide never loses her crowd who stay tuned in for the persuasive self-confidence, the occasional fresh perspectives (how the Glasgow/Edinburgh rivalry trumps racism, say) and the hair-raising autobiographical nuggets – such as Olumide’s tale of a race row she waged on Jeremy Vine’s TV show. As that incident proved, she has a voice – if not yet a comedy show – worth listening to.