Review: Jamali Maddix: Vape Lord at Monkey Barrel

Before Jamali Maddix takes to the stage and starts his show, his audience are treated to a round of golden age hip hop from the likes of Pharoahe Monch and the Wu Tang Clan, via the speaker system. Maddix begins by neutering the energy of the music, starting quietly and casually.

Maddix quickly takes a show of hands to check to see who saw Hate Thy Neighbour, the Vice documentary in which he travelled the world and tried to befriend Nazis. Some of Maddix’s best material is drawn from his trials and tribulations working on the show. Some of the stories end with a punchline, others are mildly amusing, and others are simply interesting.

True to the promise of his show’s title, Maddix vapes on stage. He also sips Red Stripe lager, water, and is fetched a tin of lemonade on request by staff. “You’d like a slave,” he taunts one audience member disingenuously, grinning, “don’t lie, a slave would be awesome”. Maddix is at ease talking to the audience and befriends them quickly. He gives warnings before he says something potentially offensive, but never strays enough from the bounds of political correctness to really thrill or horrify the crowd.

Maddix has many things wise, amusing, and challenging to say on struggle. Wise: the feeling of being exploited by his all-white Vice crew, who are under no existential threat from the Nazis they are filming. Amusing: the struggles of being black and a ‘grower not a shower’. Challenging: #MeToo has pushed black struggle out of popular consciousness.

Early on and then again midway through the show, Maddix sits down and checks his watch a few times. Toward the end his focus returns, and he speaks with some of the energy his intro music suggested, allowing him to end on a bang.

Jamali Maddix: Vape Lord, Monkey Barrel, 15-26 Aug, 6pm

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