Esther Manito @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

Esther Manito is on a journey through motherhood, but is at her best when commenting on race

Review by James Gladdis | 09 Aug 2019
  • Esther Manito @ Gilded Balloon, Teviot

Motherhood and its myriad difficulties is a hot topic amongst comedians right now. It makes sense too; no matter the amount of pre-natal classes you take or birthing videos you watch, nothing is going to prepare you for how difficult being a mother really is.

There will, however, be the occasional overlap of motherhood experiences, meaning there’s always the danger of retreading old ground. Unfortunately, this is the pitfall that Esther Manito finds herself trapped in during the first fifteen minutes of Crusade.

The challenge of the school run, annoying middle class mums with ludicrously-named children, the different approaches to parenting between two generations, being criticised for doing comedy rather than spending time with your child. All familiar topics to anyone who’s watched Katherine Ryan, Ali Wong or an episode of Catastrophe.

It’s as soon as Manito turns her focus away from motherhood and towards the problem of identity, prejudice and race that Crusade really takes off. Manito riffs on topics as diverse as performing to an English Defence League audience to being the first female comic to perform in Dubai and deftly contrasts these experiences to highlight just how ludicrous and illogical prejudice really is.

One unfortunate habit that Manito has is her tendency to depend on the ‘this-guy-gets-it’ response, which suggests a lack of confidence in her material that's further indicated of the 45-minute runtime rather than an hour. Manito’s delivery is on point as well, mostly. She flips between pure rage at her innumerable Twitter trolls and is surprisingly empathetic towards some of those same people. 

Esther Manito: CrusadeGilded Balloon Teviot (Turret), until 25 Aug (not 12), 4pm, £9-12