Tadiwa Mahlunge set to make his Edinburgh Festival debut

Tadiwa Mahlunge set to make his Edinburgh Festival debut

By Agencies

Opening his Fringe account by declaring that if this show’s successful, he’ll never play the festival again, this seems a very real possibility for Tadiwa Mahlunge.

The 25-year-old, Welsh-raised Zimbabwean already has his stand-up persona down pat, an attractive cocktail of unabashed ambition, overweening arrogance and crippling insecurity. The wellspring of that stage charisma, his dysfunctional offstage relationships, is mighty.

Mahlunge’s rich father impresses with his sheer commitment to being absent from his son’s life, only occasionally re-emerging to remarkable non-effect. His indomitable mother is the literal beating force behind his immigrant drive to succeed, a woman without softness, schooling her child in how to visit devastating vengeance upon another comic and an upstart, class snob colleague.

The stand-up’s well-meaning grandmother foists improper sexual thoughts upon him, yet he’s quite capable of being inappropriate himself with his therapist, with his tendency to put women on a pedestal occasionally manifesting itself in internalised, racially abusive masochism.

Professionally, he remains committed to the latest in a series of evil, capitalist jobs. Yet his most toxic vocation, comedy, has got him hooked, while draining him of his soul and bank balance.

And thanks to his clipped, middle-class accent and ethnically unthreatening looks, this African is frequently not black enough for his Black-British brethren, yet stereotypically a source of both excessive lust and fear for white women, even if he wrestles with his conscience about exploiting these to his advantage.

Switching up between cocksure swagger and appearing a total shell of a man, Mahlunge has an egotistical, inward focus but in the process, casually offers up smart observations on gender relations, generation gaps, immigrant prospects, rotten cultures in the corporate workplace and race friction.

Psychologically, he’s really not right. But in comedy terms, he’s already looking like the complete, fully-rounded package.

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