Comedian Daliso Chaponda is embarking on What The African Said, his debut solo tour, with dates including Brighton’s Komedia on Thursday, March 1.
Daliso knows there is a lot riding on it, but he’s cool about the whole thing.
His exposure on Britain’s Got Talent has given him the step-up he needs, and he knows he is ready. He has done a string of previews to make sure he is in the zone. He has also been dropping bits of tour material into other shows he has done.
“I am massively grateful to Britain’s Got Talent, but I know that people watching me on Britain’s Got Talent are fans of Britain’s Got Talent. Now I have got the chance to make people fans of mine.
“When I was younger and starting out in comedy, you have all these mad dreams of things that you want to achieve. And then after a few years, you start thinking ‘Well, I am never going to do that.’ You start thinking ‘I am just a jobbing comedian really.’ But now Britain’s Got Talent has reignited all those dreams: “I think really I have just got to be consistently good. But actually, I am in an extremely-safe position. I was very happy with my life before all this happened. I was not miserable and desperately hoping for a break. It was all good. And I think that is why I have been able to enjoy it. And at the end of the day, if it all just proves to have been a two-year vacation from my real life, I am not going to be unhappy going back to my old life.”
He feels, in his late 30s, that he is in a good position to cope with whatever happens – in a way perhaps he wouldn’t have been if it had all happened some years ago.
He certainly feels more able to cope with the hate mail. And yes, there has been some.
“When you are doing the competition, people get very competitive, and if you are doing better than someone they like better, then people can get very abusive. But that’s OK. It is very childish. It is just about race, about being an African and a lot of f-words. It’s the same sort of abuse that that winner of the Great British Bake Off got a couple of years ago. She got a lot of abuse, but sometimes it is difficult to understand how some people can feel such rage towards someone who is actually a complete stranger to them. It is very bizarre!”
More important is the fact that the UK is a great place to be if you want to make your living from comedy. Daliso, who grew up in Malawi, started out in comedy in Canada and then tried South Africa. When it didn’t work out, friends back in Canada pointed out that the UK was the place to be: “It is small. In Canada you can do well with a show and then spend ten hours travelling to the next one. Here the pubs help. The pub owners get a few comedians in so that people come along and they can sell their alcohol. The drinking culture is really good for comedy in this country.”
All of which means Daliso is now ready for that tour: “It feels like I have been training for it for all these years even if I have not been consciously training for it. Everything I have done has been building to this point, and now I have just got to do it in the best way I possibly can.”