When Roseanne Barr wrote a racist tweet, the comedian walked off the show – and 90 minutes later it was cancelled. She talks about the furore, coming out and being booed by Trump fansThe last time Wanda Sykes was booed was four days after Donald Trump …Continue Reading
Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
The LGBTQ+ standup twists gender into new shapes in a fringe debut that feels like a great intro to a fresh comic personality
Should we be disowning words like “boys” and “girls” – or broadening what those words are allowed to mean? Sarah Keyworth is in an interesting position to discuss the question. She’s LGBTQ+, even if she seldom lingers beyond the first letter. As a solo-show debutante, nominated for best newcomer at the Comedy awards, she’s part of generation pulling gender into new shapes. And her adolescence was blighted by bullying because she didn’t conform to stereotypes of what a girl should be.
Such is the stuff of Dark Horse – a maiden fringe hour that (as per convention) sets out Keyworth’s stall, but without a hint of navel-gazing. For that, we’ve got Roly to thank – he’s one of two well-heeled children she’s nannied for the last four years. Latterly, Roly emerges as the show’s subject and star, as Keyworth sees her mafia levels of infant confidence eroded by the pressure never to be “bossy”, far less a “slut”. Like Cora Bissett’s What Girls Are Made Of, Dark Horse is determined to let girls fearlessly be girls. Keyworth risks overarticulating the point, and there’s no need: her show could scarcely be better constructed to express it.Continue Reading
Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
Amid the garish sex comedy, the standup provocateur makes a striking effort to embrace the complexity of gender politics
Those who shoot from the hip can easily shoot themselves in the foot, but Fin Taylor seems happy to take that risk. Taylor is one of those (straight, male) provocateur comics whose fearless plain speaking can shade into shock-jockery. But he’s a lively watch and often worth listening to – in recent years on the subjects of race and leftwing tribalism, and now – hold on to your hats! – on post-#MeToo gender politics.
When Harassy Met Sally isn’t a delicate take on our current moment, but alongside the missteps and highly debatable claims, there is some worthwhile thinking. And – in lieu, perhaps, of trigger warnings – Taylor has devised an amusing way to signal when his hot takes are about to get hotter to handle.Continue Reading
The LA comic, who won best newcomer at last year’s Edinburgh fringe, has tested her electric new material on American audiences. But how will Nate – her ‘douchebag’ male alter ego – go down in Britain?
We should know, after last year, to expect the unexpected from Natalie Palamides. Who could have foreseen that the buzziest comedy in 2017 would come from an unknown LA actor making performance art about fertility, parental anxiety and eggs? But so it proved. In a blizzard of yolk and shattered shells, her show Laid wowed Edinburgh and poached the Comedy award for best newcomer. So we should have been braced for more surprises. But this? A cross-dressing comedy show for the #MeToo era that workshops, with audience participation, the idea of consent?
The show is called Nate, after a male character the 28-year-old has played since college. “He does come off as a douchebag, as we say in America,” says Palamides, speaking by phone from Los Angeles, where she has been developing the show with her director, the cult clown and previous Edinburgh Comedy award champ Doctor Brown. “At first you think Nate’s a jerk,” she adds. “But people warm to him because he’s sweet – a sweet lovable idiot.”Continue Reading
While mainstream visibility is still limited, LGBT comics are moving past cliches and homophobic roadblocks to take their place in the US comedy scene
Twenty-five years ago, Lea DeLaria became the first openly gay comic to appear on American television when she performed on The Arsenio Hall Show. “It’s the 1990s,” she announced with characteristic gusto. “It’s hip to be queer, and I’m a bi-i-i-i-ig dyke!” At a time when homophobia was rampant, forcing queer comics to traffic in innuendo when discussing their sexualities onstage, DeLaria and other out standups like Kate Clinton and Scott Thompson were radically candid and brazenly political, sometimes at their own expense. On Arsenio, where she was invited back twice more that year, DeLaria, who now plays Carrie “Big Boo” Black on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, uttered the words dyke, fag and queer 47 times in four minutes. “I didn’t just open the closet door,” she recalls to the Guardian. “I fucking blew that door off with a blowtorch.”
Our models of success have always been smaller, more boutique comediansContinue Reading
The comic, singer and actor, performing in the UK for the first time in seven years, answered your questions
Thanks for all the questions – I’ll be at Ronnie Scott’s at the end of the week!
What does the song You Make Me Feel Mighty Real mean to you? Why chose to cover it?
Mighty Real was sort of an anthem for the pre-AIDS gay experience – a time of unbridled celebration and sexual freedom.
Another admirer of King of Comedy here. What are you most proud of?
What I’m most proud of is that I’m still in the game. I still love performing and being creative. I love what I do!
Have you ever had stage fright? Which of your projects has been the most nerve-racking?
Of course! Any time you walk on stage you’re nervous, that’s part of what motivates you to do a great show. But any time that I do television or films that’s the most nerve-racking because other people are dependent on your professionalism.
Who in your eyes, are the real king and queen of comedy, past or present?
When I was growing up, I adored Totie Fields and, of course, my dear friend Paul Mooney.
Genevieve Scoville asks:
I’m a keen listener to your radio show on SiriusXM. Is there someone who sticks out as your favourite interviewee?
Most recently, Mena Suvari was a lovely surprise but on a regular basis, comedian Judy Gold is a fabulous interview. She’s on my show frequently. She’s a terrific conversationalist.
Beans on a fry-up?
I adore beans. On anything and everything!
Today’s political and cultural climate in the US and the UK is shifting in a way that was not expected by many. As a result, it seems that a comment that once would have been seen as thought-provoking (even if you disagreed with it) can now send social media lynch mobs at people and potentially ruin careers (if not lives). This is seen on the left and on the right. As someone who speaks her opinion, how do you feel about this culture? How do you respond to such things?
I have definitely started to edit a lot of things that I would not have thought twice about saying 10 or 15 years ago. It simply isn’t worth it to be exposed to the unsophisticated thinking of so many people. I’ve learned how to recalibrate my approach to social commentary.
You recently said: “I try not to get caught up and swallowed up by the changing tides because they’re gonna keep changing” … however, now that Oprah indicated a lack of desire to be nominated to run to be the next President of the United States, would you be enticed to throw your hat in the ring? Sandra Bernhard POTUS46 has a nice ring to it.
I wish I had it in me but I’m afraid I’m not your lady for this one!
I’ve always enjoyed your multilayered approach to comedy, and it always seems to have a message. Do you think this is lacking in the current comedy world?
I think the issue is there’s too much product out there. And there’s only a certain amount of things people can talk about. So sometimes it becomes redundant. It’s getting harder to hone your craft because of YouTube and the internet. You really need to get out to the clubs to hone your craft. A lot of people these days don’t have the patience.
There’s an amazing film of yours from the mid 90s – an Australian film called Dallas Doll (featuring the screen debut of Rose McGowan), a sort of reverse Crocodile Dundee. It had a huge cult following, but is unavailable to buy. There’s a host of classic lines in the film, two of which are particular favourites in our family: “I’d like to see THAT angry!” and “Don’t forget the garlic bread, gorgeous.” For old times’ sake, please would you say those lines again now?
Actually it’s Rose Byrne. Working on this film was one of the strangest experiences of my life. It was like being trapped in a ‘no exit’ situation.
What’s your favourite memory of filming Hudson Hawk?
All my time spent with Richard E Grant! In particular a trip we took together to Vienna. We always had a great time.
You performed a brilliant version of the Rolling Stone’s Angie on a Channel 4 show years ago called Viva Cabaret. Is it available now?
The answer is no! It’s one of my favourite songs of all time. It reminds me of my first trip to London in 1973 when the song was released. I was 17 and travelling around the world and having an incredible time.
[I’m] yet another massive fan of your work in King of Comedy. Did your craziness in that film come from real life, or was it a stronger version of [it]? … I’ve known a few women a little like you at times in that film!
At that time i was much closer to the character in the sense that i was just starting out in my career. I was very young, had a lot of extra energy, emotion to spare. Masha was more in tune with who I was then rather than now for sure…
What things are most important to you in your job?
Promptness, professionalism and no obscene language.
Are you as funny in real life as you are on film, tv and stage? PS, you fucking own Raging Bull.
It depends on the setting! Of course I can be much funnier offstage rather than when I’m performing but those are private moments with friends who get the absurdity I seem to capture as I go through life!
Any advice, ideas or recommendations about how to survive Trumpageddon? I live in the US, and each day is more painful than the last. Please help!! PS, thank you for all the years of comedy therapy!
My best advice is to take big breaks from listening to the talking heads and endless updates on his latest faux pas and do something creative and rewarding so you can continue to have some normalcy in your life. As in all stressful times, this will pass!
I see you musically as a rock’n’roll vixen. What can we expect from your set at the jazz church that is Ronnie Scott’s?
It’ll be a blend of personal stories, fabulous misc of course with my Sandyland Squad band on hand and a journey in and out of day-to-day quotidian life as I see it!
Hello – It’s great to be back in London where, although the language is generally the same, the culture is much different. And that’s always inspiring!
Sandra Bernhard webchat – post your questions now
To call Sandra Bernhard a triple threat would be selling her short. Since she started out in LA’s comedy scene and on The Richard Pryor Show, she’s been a provocative force in standup, and her cabaret-style shows prove she can deliver a song as well as a punchline.Continue Reading
Soho theatre, London
Pop legends in their own minds, this swaggering five-piece retool Whitney and Beyoncé songs into sharp-clawed attacks on Trump and Islam
The conceit of drag girlband Denim’s show World Tour is that they’re performing it on stage at Wembley. Its achievement is to convince you that, were they to do so, they wouldn’t look out of place. They may not be performing to the 12,000 people they envisage in their heads, but they make Soho Theatre sound like that way, with this cheeky, characterful and vocally accomplished hour-long gig.
At the beginning, the five-piece seem too big for Soho’s main house. But then, that’s the joke: their swagger and stadium-pop touches are setting up a punchline to come. And you soon realise that only frontwoman Glamrou La Denim (Amrou Al-Kadhi) is outre in the conventional drag manner, and even her camp theatrics come with political edge. Her opening gag, singing the words “Alan Ayckbourn” in the style of a muezzin, are a mere palate cleanser for the solo routine mid-show, a sharp-clawed attack on Islam’s attitude to queer identity. It’s striking how transgressive this feels, as Glamrou retools Whitney Houston’s So Emotional into an Allah-baiting cri de coeur.Continue Reading
Shows about relationship breakdown and homophobia pick up a prize – or two – for John Robins and Hannah Gadsby
The longest ever shortlist. The first ever joint winners. And clearly, the most indecisive judging panel ever.
It was indeed, as the publicity would have it, an “unprecedented” year for the Edinburgh comedy awards. But, if there’s a worry that the currency of these awards is being devalued, there can be no real complaints about this year’s champs: probably the two most audacious stand-up shows on the fringe, and certainly among the funniest.Continue Reading
The Canadian comic may look like she needs ID to get into her own shows, but her Fringe show is her frankest (and funniest) yet
‘I love being gut-wrenchingly honest,” says elfin comic Mae Martin when we meet in an Edinburgh cafe. “It’s so satisfying.” Other standups booked on the same bill as her should consider themselves forewarned. “I find it hard not to say personal things when I’m compering. Like the other night, I was introducing a friend and I told the audience: ‘This guy’s great, we had a threesome once …’ He was, like: ‘What are you doing?’ The crowd heckled him so much. All they wanted to hear about was the threesome.” She gives the sort of bashful, butter-wouldn’t-melt smile that enables her to get away with anything on stage. “I really need to be careful.”
Now may not be the best time to start. The Toronto-born, London-based comedian, who is 30 but would surely need to produce ID to be allowed into one of her own shows, is at the fringe with Dope, her funniest and frankest set to date. It examines addiction in all its forms, from social media to relationships to drugs, and relies for its success on her ability to bring comic effervescence to a heavy subject.Continue Reading