views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Begging to Differ
Camden Comedy Club
6th August 2016


Daphna Baram

Photography © Giada Garofalo

Daphna Baram looks perfectly respectable. She's an ex-human rights lawyer, and the title of her new comedy show Begging to Differ is after all a very polite and middle-class way of telling you to go do one. It's all designed to lull you into a false sense of security; she's got an extremely sharp, caustic sense of humour and a very wicked streak. Despite all appearances to the contrary, Baram is "that" friend, the one who whispers bad ideas into your ear and has you constantly exclaiming "I can't believe you said that!" Oh yes, don't let that innocent smile fool you, Baram couldn't be dull if she tried and promises lots of giggles in this 50-minute set.

What starts out as a dissection of just how awful 2016 has been so far, and includes some hastily written in (and well-received) Brexit jokes, soon disintegrates into a series of anecdotes about Baram herself. We hear about surviving a heart attack, living in a war-struck country and dating in London. Like all good comedians, no holds are barred, with Baram offering us up her defining, vulnerable moments as pure comedy fodder. She's a wonderful, warm storyteller who knows about to read a room and keep everyone drawn in. And she clearly is having a lot of fun doing so.

Gritty references to life in Israel are casually dropped in with some deliciously black humour. It's clear from the subject matter that it's very difficult to upset or offend the comedienne, which always relaxes an audience. It's a gentle, receptive crowd who have come to see a show with an expectation of a good time, it's not a tough room, but you get the distinct impression that Baram could hold her own against any hecklers if she needed to.

Frequently the number of laughs don't quite reflect the quality of Baram's wit, perhaps due to how sudden, unexpected and dark some of her throwaway lines are. As much as we enjoyed spending time with Baram and would quite happily see her doing stand-up again, this isn't the sort of gig that prompts you to laugh so hard that your sides hurt. Although it's funny, dry and often quite edgy, Baram could push the boundaries even further and court that bit more controversy.

Baram refers to her notes a few times to check she's covered off everything she needs to, which is fine, it doesn't disrupt the flow. If anything, her delivery is very well-paced. However, given she is looking at a list of stories to run through and in which order, it's surprising how unstructured this show feels in the middle. Whilst Baram is never anything less than engaging, the show does seems to lose its narrative arc somewhat. Not something you mind in the moment, but can see on reflection.

Mischievous, fascinating and above all, a sheer delight to be around, Baram has certainly won us over. If anyone thinks buying a ticket to see Baram doing stand-up isn't an entertaining way to spend an hour, we'll beg to differ.

Begging to Differ opened on 6th August and runs until 9th August at the Camden Comedy Club, and will run on 15th August 2016 at the Phoenix Artist Club, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)

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