It’s been a while since I’ve lived in a place where I can do what I did this evening. When I lived in Stoke Newington, one could walk home from club nights. Hop from a cafe. Be extremely blasé about the concept of “night buses”.
Now, I am in Brighton, during the Brighton fringe. And I figured out that I could see a few shows in a row of a Sunday evening, provided I brought my bike with me. And didn’t mind hot footing it from venue to venue.
Brighton is beautiful, but hillier than the tourist guides indicate. Thank heavens for owning a bike. And so I could glide downhill from Bex Turner then huff and puff up again to the Duke of Wellington and Ishi Khan.
Turner has performed at Factually Inaccurate before, but actually her own personal brand of awkward chaos fits a full hour show a lot better: you adapt, as an audience member, to her awkward, occasionally terrifying world.
The poster for the show – the artist, grinning maniacally, with a chainsaw – has little to do with the material. But it’s still a handy shorthand for how little of a shit the artist cares about whether she brings the crowd with her or leaves them shivering in a metaphorical ditch.
And this is not a bad thing. Turner’s comedy is very funny and honest, therapy in the best way, and the strained, rigor mortis grin of a lady in the front row only adds to the vibrant poignancy of some of Bex’s more outre observations.
That said, I think there’s a character comedian here straining to get out. Whether a fake silent movie star (your correspondent keel hauled into being the keystone cops), a terrible agony aunt, or Sue Pollard – Turner really nails not being herself. And this isn’t to say she’s no good in person: far from it. Just the segue from one to another needs to be smoother, more rewarding – and with a payoff. But still: this is a fun, troubling hour.
A fast cycle down and then the hill brings me to Ishi Khan.
The promoters play it coy when I arrive asking if I’m too late. Turns out I’m the third paying punter.
This is no sick burn on either the promoter or the performer – it’s Sunday teatime; people are currently choosing between eating and heating.
I have a loud laugh. And Khan, from her fake penis to her exceptional twerking, is a vivid and open performer. And so, with a degree of inevitability, I am invited on stage to perform Bollywood dance routines – appallingly – with our hero, who knows all about immigration, being fingered by disappointing rugby fans, and how to pronounce Loughborough.
One thing I loved about Khan is how she tacked four punters like we were a sold out show – with oodles of charm, care, and control. See her. See her do comedy.
From here I cycled like a rollacoaster – honestly, Brighton is hillier than the brochure claims – to see Kate Martin and Daniel Foxx.
“It’s 70% what you heard last year”, claims Martin, erroneously. Some comedians flip and flop –
Others, perhaps the more sensible ones, hone their material then hone a bit more, for years, as I assumed occurred with Pericles before he died due to being too gorgeous.
It’s a minor complaint because their sets were so amazing, but neither Martin or Foxx *needed* the “I know what you’re thinking…” intros comparing them to famous lesbians, aliens or celebrities. I understand this material: it puts the audience at ease. But there’s no need to put an audience at ease when they’re already lapping everthing up.
Even Foxx’s adlibs landed, but i particularly enjoyed the eloquent nailing of what it was like to grow up gay in the early noughties; the fabulous wrestler boyfriend; and the confidence he exuded while throughout out occasionally niche experiences. Foxx is, I believe, “for the win”
What to say about Kate Martin? An increasingly assured performer, Martin knows who she looms like and isn’t afraid to wait to unleash this self-knowledge on us, the audience.
My favourite bit of her set was the erection section. Genuine, pleasing obliviousness from this Vulcan lesbian trying to figure out what cocks are supposed to look like.
She will go far. And I shall be there! In a non-creepy way, hopefully.