Fringe Comedy Reviews: Controversial Comedians
Despite winning the panel prize in 2013, Adrienne Truscott [★★★☆☆] is still relatively new to stand-up comedy. Dirty jokes and anecdotes provide the laugh-out-loud humour, while the rest is a mixture of cabaret, tittilating dances and thoughtful commentary with a side of multimedia. Unfortunately, much of this feels like stalling for time, and we are left waiting for a joke to appear among the sequins. Truscott famously performed her entire first (award-winning) show naked from the waist down, and this year spends her hour in the Gilded Balloon in various states of undress. The less she has covering her body, the more traditional the comedy gets, until finally she stands in nothing but heels and gaffer tape, spinning tales of her time working as a stripper. At a certain point, we completely forget what she’s wearing – or not, as the case may be – since we are so rightly involved and attentive to what she’s saying.
Truscott has survived a lot of controversy and criticism, and will continue to do so for a long time yet. Both she and Georgia comic Reginald D Hunter [★★★☆☆] have a suave confidence that comes from pure self-belief, and which reveals itself in their shows. Hunter's show is packed with insights into continuing racial tensions at both personal and political levels, homespun stories from the US and the UK alike, and his own life as a performer. What it lacks is a thread holding the jokes together. This isn't necessarily a fault, but in this case makes for a show made up of stories told one after another with no real flow between them, and some intellectual or comedic links which have been missed out. One moment of fantastically clever satire acts as a saving grace, and shows the kind of highly critical, intellectual comedy that Hunter's audience is expecting, but this is far too rare in the set. As ever, though, Hunter's comedy is controversial, popular and very clever, with or without structure.
Without TV credentials or shock tactics, Abigoliah Schamaun [★★★★☆] keeps coming out on top when talking about sex. What she has instead is a refreshing honesty – and the best kind of shamelessness. Schamaun reminds us with her comedy that though sex is decidedly not beautiful or artistic, it does provide us with unique moments which we can't find anywhere else in life; for example the Post-Coital Confessions which make up the backbone of her show. Using a pool of offhand comments that came out after the deed was done, both directed at her and at strangers, Schamaun weaves her own stories into a kind of mesh of universal experience, drawing us in and making us feel safe from the get-go. By being honest about her own sexual history, she tells us it's okay to laugh at the points we recognise, and that it's important to see the difference between the sex we see on TV and sex in real life.
Reginald D. Hunter: Bitchproof, Pleasance Courtyard, until 30 Aug (various dates), 8pm, £15-17
Abigoliah Schamaun: Post-Coital Confessions, Gilded Balloon, until 31 Aug (not 19th), 5:15pm, £7.50-10
Adrienne Truscott’s a One-Trick Pony, Gilded Balloon, until 17 Aug, 8:15pm, £7.50-14