Clinton Baptiste – Live Review – York Barbican
By Victoria Holdsworth, October 2021
From Bolton via Vegas… to the stars! Tonight York was in for a luxurious treat, with none other than world famous, Pheonix Nights psychic, Clinton Baptiste.
The stage is set with huge sparkling letters spelling CLINT across the stage. As people take to their seats, and the dry ice tumbles out across the void, Clinton dances onto the stage in a figure-hugging sequinned jump suit, looking a vision of glamour, showing off his recent buttock lift (both of them) and his new barnet of flowing platinum hair.
Greeting his crowd with a high pitched: “Y’all right!” he is straight into the banter.
Before proceedings commence he reads out the show’s disclaimer to much amusement and tittering, as he informs us that tonight, on this very stage, we are going to witness the spirit of a ghost that will ask you to question everything you know to be true. It will give you old thoughts, new thoughts and, at the very least, proper sh*t you up.
From the get go, Clinton has the audience eating out of his hand, and his creator Alex Lowe’s use of comedy timing and acting skills will have you in complete meltdown within a few minutes. The audience is already starting to tear up from laughter.
Clinton explains some of the tools of his trade, and we are treated to a rare sighting of his celestial balls, given to him by a Shaman prince, and these are one prop you do not want to miss!
The past twelve months Clinton has been away from these shores in Las Vegas, living the high life and rubbing shoulders with the beautiful people, and as he displays his fetching and dazzling jumpsuit, someone in the audience shouts, “Is that Gary Glitter?” and quick as a flash the retort from stage comes back: “Get out!” This is when some members of the audience start to get a bit rowdy, after a day drinking at the races it would seem, and take the opportunity to start shouting random lines, and trying to start telling their own jokes, which does not go down too well with the artist in question, or a large majority of the crowd, who have come to be entertained with carefully crafted and cheeky comedy, not by a drunken mob.
What they did not bank on is the rapier wit, sarcasm and ultimate put downs, which Clinton lashes back at them, all with the ferocity and side splitting attitude of a room full of drag queens.
Tonight we get the whole tale of his time in the West Coast of America, where he realised that he shouldn’t be performing for the gaudy, rich, wafer thin perfect people any more – and that’s why he is back here performing for us. He says he doesn’t mean to be horrible, but it looks like lockdown has been cruel.
It would appear Clinton has done his research about York, and explains that there are some leylines which cross underneath the very stage he is standing on. It looks as though the energy is high, as Clinton is already picking up lots of psychic tremors, and as he moves to the front of the stage, his wavering hand fluttering in front of him, he seems drawn to a gentleman in the front row. It looks as though the poor man’s relatives have set him up beforehand, much the the mirth of everyone around him, and Clinton starts his audience participation.
After mercilessly teasing the gent on the front row, which he took in good humour, he wanders around his crowd, looking for his next psychic vibration.
Coming down from the stage he wanders around some fearful faces, bantering all the way around, leaving everyone gasping for breath.
He gives us some lessons on manifesting, where you ask the universe to give you something, but as Clinton warns, you have to be very precise about what you ask for. A woman came to him some years ago and asked if a pop star could come into her life and really knock her off her feet. According to our man in the know, three days later on Hampstead High Street, she was actually run over by George Michael. Let that be an important warning to us, he says.
After making his way around some of the other members of the crowd, and leaving them feathers from his celestial wings, there’s a cheeky twinkle in his eye as he returns to the gent on the front row to continue his teasing, with seemingly a wealth of knowledge about him and his antics, which again has the crowd roaring.
Clinton throughout his first act introduces us to some of the dead celebrities he has recently come into contact with, including Peter Stringfellow, who set up a strip club in his cerebellum, and the trouble he had with the psychic council trying to evict him. “Peter Stringfellow! He was a funny fella. Can you imagine a man of his age with hair like that.”
There were quite a lot of audience members who were more interested in going to the bar every five minutes, and Clinton asks if there is a car boot sale going on outside, then just as things have quietened down a little, a big haired blonde woman drunkenly staggers across the front of the stage and falls towards the doors. Clinton asks, “If you’re leaving can I have my hair back?”
The first half has been full of double entendres, dirty wordplay and playful crowd interaction, and even the most outlandish puns are never too shocking, but just right.
“Raised the roof”
After an interval, we commence the second half of the show, and as Clinton moves some of his big sparkly letters onstage to collect some of his props, the result spells out two very naughty words, which is made all the more hilarious, as the hapless psychic seems oblivious.
Clinton delves deeper into the reasons he developed his talents, which saw him end up in Las Vegas, against the beliefs of his father, who thought he was a poncy little tw*t who wouldn’t amount to anything, and how he took this pain and suffering and used it to create the spiritual sparkle we have today. Some of the woeful tales he tells will have you wanting to cry as well as laugh your head off.
We then get to the part of the show where Clinton talks to the dead, and channels some of the world’s most famous characters and explains how he would try and get them to speak to him whilst in Vegas: Sammy Davis Junior, Dean Martin, and the walrus of love, Mr Barry White.
Holding some of his LPs our soothsayer then comically goes through some of the lesser known tracks on his albums, his voice changing through the microphone and booming out across the room – it is one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time.
This is followed by some quality prop play and more Vegas tales, before he senses a tingling, and it’s very strong. It is his time to finally pick out the hooligan in the crowd who has been shouting and carrying on all the way through the show. A perfect opportunity to cut him down to size, and quite deservedly so. The rest of the crowd also thought it was deserved, as their laughter raised the roof.
Clinton’s journey back to the UK took him through Mexico, when at the very lowest point of his life, he was saved by a peasant family, who showed him the magical powers of some cave crystals; two of which are now displayed on podiums on the stage. He invites an audience member to come up and view them, but only if they have a PhD in geology. Clinton chooses a lady from the audience, but before she can get to the stage, the aforementioned hooligan in the crowd is dragged down to the front of the stage, uninvited, by his friend, which is a mistake I think he will regret for the rest of his life, as our man Clinton really lets rip.
There is a disaster though when the lady who eventually comes up, knocks one of the mystical crystals from its stand. Whilst he tries to salvage the pieces, knocking off the second one, Clinton has no choice but to send her back to her seat ain the knowledge she has buggered up hope for all mankind.
Fading now, fading now… as Clinton leaves the stage the audience have been asked for some after life suggestions, which were placed on cards. Lionel Richie is one of the first names pulled – and he’s not even dead. JFK comes through strongly and Clinton asks him where that bullet come from? And as you would expect, he didn’t know, it just went in one ear and out of the other. Clinton tells him that it was only a popular joke in 1963. The biggest star to come through his celestial curtains tonight though is the king himself, Elvis Presley, closely followed by Bruce Forsyth, who actually managed to completely take Clinton over. John Lennon, a Chuckle brother, Steve Irwin and Rod Hull all make a visitation.
We even have a visit from Cilla Black tonight, and some of the other suggestions and replies were incredibly amusing, seeing people taking a sharp intake of breath, but it was all received in good jest.
The most popular request was Derek Acorah, and the amount of different spellings of his name, Clinton used to his full advantage to make the requests even funnier.
Clinton thanks his audience and bestows his magical words upon us of, “Shalamar! Shakatak!” before leaving the stage in a haze of bling, leaving nothing behind but aching ribs.
Alex Lowe, the man behind Clinton is a master at working a room, mixing the expected with the spontaneous, and this was an evening of pure entertainment.