Topical comedy at its best, but only for a bit
US comic Michelle Wolf arrives in Edinburgh with one of the most eye-catching credits of all: co-writer of Chris Rock’s Oscar speech. Admittedly that could have been just the one gag, but even so, it beats four stars in Broadway Baby.
It doesn’t take long for Wolf to show she’s the real deal. Her opening routines on the US election are sublime. The world is not short of people making fun of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (or Ben Carson for that matter), but Wolf’s routines must rank among the best. The jokes themselves are strong, but it’s her leisurely, languid delivery that really does the hard work, letting each joke reach its full potential, and letting us saviour them to completion.
Unfortunately the standard couldn’t be sustained. Her material on gender politics yielded some good stuff, I enjoyed her jokes about the fruitlessness of getting women on banknotes, and her material on the thorny issue of blankets seemed to strike a chord. Wolf certainly isn’t interested in toeing the orthodox feminism line, and riles up a few audience members with her jokes on domestic abuse, and the theory that if men had periods they (we) would just fix them.
To underline her credentials as a topical comic there were routines on “big issue” subjects like immigration, terrorism, climate change and the Olympics, but the standard never returned to the gold of the opening 20 minutes. In performing in that more American style of basically not bothering with structure, preferring instead to just tell a series of discreet, unrelated routines for 60 minutes, Wolf made it hard to get momentum back when it went. There was no investment really on our part.
A closing set on dating her personal trainer and trying to weird him out via text message to get rid of him, was a strong finish, but it felt a shame to have given away her early lead.
Review by Paul Fleckney