It’s nearly time for the Edinburgh Festival 2014, and although that makes me want to shrivel away with jealousy because I can’t be there, it also means comedians are performing their shows to small audiences in order to perfect their routines. I visited a lovely little art centre called the Mac in Birmingham, which I’d urge anyone to visit if they are nearby as it also puts on theatre performances, art exhibitions and cinema shows (amongst many other things).
Firstly, we saw Sara Pascoe’s show: Sara Pascoe Vs History, which was a wonderful mix of relatable material, crazy facts and a small amount of madness. Sara has been one of my favourite comedians for a while and she has growing audience-wise week by week, having recently appeared on Mock The Week, for example. It’s been great watching her television persona develop over time and I was really looking forward to actually getting to see Sara perform her stand up to a live audience.
What I loved most about Pascoe’s show was that she talked very openly regarding her feminist views without leaving a resentful feel in the air: she spoke of liberation and change. But also, it was hilarious. One of my favourite ideas she expressed was one that she also talked about on Mock The Week very recently: that Page 3 should actually be made like jury duty, where anyone could be called up at any time. She expanded on it during her live show and I actually think it’s an excellent idea in theory, but I definitely don’t want to see it put in place! (Well, actually, I gladly don’t read The Sun, so maybe I, and most people I know, would be okay!) I really enjoyed Sara’s set, even though everyone was sure the building was burning down at one point and even the venue staff had to investigate the smell of smoke during the interval.
Next, we saw John Robins (my latest Comedian Of The Month, who is a relatively new comedian for me) with his show: This Tornado Loves You. I talked at length about John’s style of comedy in the post mentioned above so I won’t go too far into that as I’d just be repeating myself. However, what I will say is that this new show is very strong, with a good balance of accessible observations (such as an in depth analysis of the strange tradition of weddings and people’s behaviour at such events) with brilliant acted out scenes that only contained one person (John, obviously), but were developed around another silent character. I found a quote for John which summed up what his new show portrayed: ‘His self-deprecation and Olympic ad-libbing would have you skipping happily down even the darkest alley’ (Venue).
It was really interesting to see which jokes from both comics didn’t work with the audience, not because they weren’t funny but simply because there needed to be something additional said in order for us to understand and appreciate them (such as subtle wordplays that kept going unnoticed). If you’re in Edinburgh this summer or are interested in seeing some preview shows, I definitely recommend both Sara Pascoe and John Robins as they are both very talented and hard-working comedians.