It’s a mark of how quickly Emmanuel Sonubi’s career has taken off that he appeared on the BBC’s Live at the Apollo before he even made it to the Fringe. And so Sonubi arrives in Edinburgh this August to make his Edinburgh debut not as someone trying to prove himself on the stand-up circuit but as someone in position to enjoy a victory lap.
In short, the North Londoner is very much the finished article. And someone who can expect – rather than just hope for – an audience.
And what does that audience get in return? A polished, professional, impeccable hour of stand-up that doesn’t try to do anything new because it doesn’t have to. It’s too busy proving that observational comedy, when it’s done right, remains as entertaining as it ever did. If it ain’t broke … And all that.
And so Sonubi tells us about his upbringing with five older sisters in a Nigerian household, the trials and tribulations of being a parent and – the source of some of his best material – his past as a bouncer. And yes, he still has the muscles. (As he tells us, he doesn’t look like a comedian.)
All of which provides an assured foundation for those moments when he does venture into more challenging material; such as looking at the stereotypes about black male masculinity in our society, the policing of language or what you are allowed to make jokes about in an age of social media callouts. If anything, he could push this more in his act.
But then what he does he does so well. And when he opens up about his recent health issues we are both shocked by the story and consoled by the comedy he surrounds it with.
Sonubi seems made for a crossover TV career. How long before he turns up on Task Master, you wonder? But in the meantime his name is a guarantee of a good night out. That’s a pretty decent result for a Fringe newbie.
Emmanuel Sonubi: Emancipated continues at Underbelly Bristo Square – Dairy Room until August 28 (except August 15).