Jen Brister @ Monkey Barrel

A lunchtime show with Jen Brister is better than lunch with mum

Review by Ben Venables | 21 Aug 2018
  • Jen Brister

Initially, Jen Brister seems like she's heading into a new Edinburgh Fringe subgenre. Instead of the 'dead dad show' this is one about a live-in mum.

Meaningless is an hour of sound and fury, perfectly capturing the exaggeration of our internal frustrations and all those pent-up resentments our family members have an uncanny ability to unlock.

Other things firing up Brister's ire are no less relatable, such as the stupidly self-absorbed advice she receives from apparently well-meaning people about how to raise her twins. Especially when this kind of wittering bunk comes from Gwyneth Paltrow's website.

The personal elements of the hour always tee up a wider point about gender role hypocrisy. She does this effortlessly and without hitting us over the head. Moreover, there's an aching and elegiac subtlety in how she looks at both nature and nurture, the changes as we age, and how this affects our perception of those around us; including our parents.

She makes it explicit at the end that, of course, she cares about her mother and her family. But the searing intensity of her performance (and her Choose Love t-shirt) doesn't leave us in any doubt of that. Anger can make us all look ridiculous and Brister uses that to quite stunning comedic effect. Yet sometimes that anger is right and needs to be heard. Sometimes saying nothing makes for a conspiratorial silence and hides the experiences of more than half the population.

Jen Brister: Meaningless, Monkey Barrel Comedy Club (Room One), until 26 Aug, 1:45pm, £5/PWYW

Scroll on to read more of The Skinny's 2018 Edinburgh Fringe comedy reviews; click here for a round-up of all the best reviews from this year's comedy and theatre programmes