The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is typically dominated by white 30-something comedians, performing sets about inner-city lifestyles, featuring jokes about avocado on toast, yoga, and gluten-free products. These shows grow tiresome very quickly, covering only narrow comedic terrain.
Emo, a Sudanese-Australian comic, represents a refreshing departure from the mundanity of some corners of Australian comedy. This is manifested both in his energised style and bold material. He isn’t afraid to dive into content about race, confronting stereotypes and spinning them into rich comedic moments. People sometimes ask him: ‘what’s the deal with African gangs?’ Emo – whose name is Emmanuel Majok – wonders why they’d think a man dressed in a cardigan would have any idea.
Black Santa is a freewheeling show. You get the sense that each show takes a different form and rhythm, depending on external factors such as crowd participation and time constraints. This hardly detracts from the show, as Emo seems to thrive on spontaneity and the natural energy of the room. His interactions, especially with older white audience members, were a highlight, demonstrating how comedy can bring together diverse communities over the shared joy of laughter.
Emo’s longer-form jokes were the strongest, allowing him to build up a story with several jokes before delivering a climactic moment that tied the narrative together. An incident at a local bottle shop, and another involving Star Wars (the less said the better), were enacted with particular comedic vigour.
There’s little doubt that Emo is an up-and-coming comedian, who brings something new and exciting to Australian comedy. As Emo continues to hone his craft, it’ll be interesting to see where his comedy takes him.
Black Santa is now showing at Fad Gallery until 17 April.
Tickets are available here: