Janine Harouni @ Pleasance Courtyard
Neat and sweet debut from one-third of award-winning sketch group Muriel
Early on in Jannine Harouni’s debut, it becomes clear this show is a love letter to that special bond between father and daughter. Ultimately they both learn to grow as people when they see things from each other’s perspective. Sounds like a schmaltzy, sentimental TV-movie where everyone learns a lesson, but in Stand Up (Please Remain Seated), only part of that is true.
It’s rife with gags, whether they be about her dad’s gentle giant appearance and actions, his love for Trumpian politics or Harouni segueing into a Yah-girl accent when she wants a one-night stand to forget her in an instant. It also gives a sharp commentary on a slightly different political climate that Brits aren’t exhausted of just yet.
There are some striking peculiarities about the hour though. Although Harouni is evidently comfortable on stage, her delivery feels too rehearsed, even when a spot of audience interaction arises. However, after a while, you do become attuned to her actorly-monologue style.
Odd too is the structure of the hour. Her jokes are immaculately constructed; very clean cut and straight to the point. However, from the arresting emotional anchor-point of the show, the jokes become palindrome-like, with each gag from the first half having an immediate callback in the second. By the end of the hour, you end up spending more time distracted by which joke the current anecdote will link up with than enjoying the path Harouni has set upon.
It’s a strong debut with real heart. Harouni now needs to feel more real as a comedian to accompany her genuine story.
Stand Up with Janine Harouni (Please Remain Seated), Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Three), until 25th Aug (not 15), 5.45pm, £9-£12