Socialist Worker

A show that makes racism look absurd

by Jay Williams
Issue No. 2739

Bamous—a new BBC comedy show—is a cleverly constructed satire of attitudes towards black people within the BBC and wider society.

Bamous—a new BBC comedy show—is a cleverly constructed satire of attitudes towards black people within the BBC and wider society. (Pic: BBC)


Bamous—a new BBC comedy show—is a cleverly constructed satire of attitudes towards black people within the BBC and wider society.

Dane Baptiste, the show’s creator and presenter, is a south east Londoner who has come to the fore on the comedy circuit over the past few years. Some of his YouTube videos are worth a look. He is black and working class and consciously brings both those elements to his comedy which is what gives it its edge. “Black lives and black wallets matter,” he remarks.

But this does not veer towards cynicism. It is actually funny, which can’t always be said. And surely anything that makes you laugh about any of the events of last year has to be worth a look.

Bamous—a conflation of black and famous—consists of a series of sketches built around the “Nasblaq”. Here, black celebrities are ranked by their stock—see what he did there?

Much of the show is based on similar extended puns and metaphors. For instance, beware of “white lens”—a disease which leads you to believe, among other things, that the whole world is against you.

That might be an obvious joke. But where Bamous delivers is by taking the clearly ridiculous to absurd conclusions.

In this, Baptiste—sometimes subtly, sometimes in your face—draws attention to the different ways racism manifests itself. It also points towards power structures and attitudes within the BBC—and the rest of society—that lie behind it.

Bamous, available now on bbc.co.uk/iPlayer

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