Jamali Maddix @ Glasgow Comedy Festival

Jamali Maddix is a fantastic tease, but his material leaves one’s balls a little blue

Review by Louis Cammell | 26 Mar 2020
  • Jamali Maddix @ Blackfriars Basement, GICF

This show's title – Strip Club Einstein – conjures a hilariously vivid image. One of history’s great minds dealing out nuggets of truth in a setting which feels both wrong, and yet somehow easily imaginable. Ten minutes into Jamali Maddix’s show, it seems perfectly fitting for the hour ahead.

A bit about how white people have gentrified terrorism plays well, and Maddix settles in to his recognisable brand of storytelling that flip-flops between political commentary and self-deprecation. However, much like a striptease, the promise of what’s to come begins to feel increasingly false. While the show continues to deliver, it becomes clear that it lacks structure.

Granted, with spontaneity come some of the night’s biggest laughs. Maddix – in a moment of impeccable crowd work – asks a pair what they’re chatting about in the middle of his routine, to which they reply ‘I was just telling her about N-Dubz’. The line is a comedian’s dream and Maddix pounces upon it like a seasoned pro. 

But the raw energy that Maddix creates in these unrepeatable moments never seem quite matched by the prepared material. And Maddix, being the seasoned documentarian that he is, knows it. After all, there must be no better crash course in reading a room than visiting America’s most prolific hate groups. In response, he leans further into audience participation to great effect.

Yet, to run this strip tease analogy into the ground, one starts to wonder when the dancing will turn into something more. While the final 15 minutes play beautifully on the expectations of this young, liberal crowd with an anecdote about being asked to interview OJ Simpson, the joke falls just short of papering over the fact that a proper climax is off the table.

Reviewed on 13 March as part of Glasgow International Comedy Festival; remaining tour dates are set to be rescheduled