Tadiwa Mahlunge talks fast. And talking is what Inhibition Exhibition is about, in many ways. Considering this is his debut hour at the Fringe, he’s remarkably confident, with a set as smooth as his shiny silk shirt. The way he talks (born and raised in Zimbabwe until he was eight before moving to Wales, his “posh” English idiolect now doesn’t sound “Black enough” to his London barbers); the way his mum admonishes or congratulates him; the few things his absent biological dad has ever said to him – language makes for a smart framing of this breakneck autobiographical set.
You might think the velocity of his delivery belies an underlying anxiety, until he ultimately confirms that, yes, like most stand-ups, he suffers a debilitating need for validation. Comedy can be a cult of personality after all, and Mahlunge wrestles with the psychological and financial volatility of doing something he really loves but probably won’t pay the bills (“If tonight goes well, you’ll never see me again,” he says, perhaps only half joking).
The show is obviously about him, but his experiences provide a lens through which to examine cultural dislocation, racial and sexual politics, family dynamics and all the intersections therein. And he gamely slingshots through these with precocious dexterity, hinting at a more considered structure that his speed might otherwise conceal, and commanding this sweaty Pleasance bunker like a pro.