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dane baptiste
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Dane Baptiste on his first stand-up gig, in a London wine bar

The comedian remembers the first time he performed live

Written by
Bobby Palmer

Corks Wine Bar on Binney Street, off Oxford Street, is where I first stood on stage and told jokes. The comedian Kojo Anim ran an amazing comedy night there. My friend was a regular and said to Kojo: ‘Dane loves comedy, I want him to have a set.’ Kojo was like: ‘Cool, he can have five minutes in two weeks.’

The night arrived. I was trying to be so humble that I waited in the queue to go in, even though I was performing. You don’t want to act like you’re better than anybody because if a Black audience doesn’t like you, you’ll know. I got there, and everyone was there: my college friends, my university friends, my cousin’s friends. I was like, ‘Why is everyone here? I didn’t tell anyone about it, so if I fucked it up, nobody would know!’

My set was about dogs, dating and the difference between men and women. It went well. A few weeks later, Binney Street became the first place I was paid to do comedy – £50 for a ten-minute set. It changed my life. Being paid to do something you like? My head exploded. I’ve been paid more to do comedy since, but that feeling will never be the same.

Dane Baptiste’s sketch show ‘Bamous’ airs on BBC Three soon.

Read more from this series:

Jade Anouka on her formative years in a New Cross flatshare.

Candice Carty-Williams reminisces about East Street Market.

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