After all the art and music I lightened things up a bit. In all honesty I’ve lost my taste for the standard stand-up “what is it about breakfast cereals?” comic, making comments that are clever and funny at the time but which are instantly forgettable, whereas I’m quite happy with anyone who can be funny while actually delivering a talk for an hour. With this in mind I finally tracked down Brydie Lee-Kennedy Loves You Two, in which Lee-Kennedy talks us through her recent polyamorous dating escapades, completely undaunted by the fact that she’d ditched one and married the other shortly before the show. She interweaved this with the story of how her grandparents met, a charming device that underlined her point that love was all that matters, not its form (she didn’t really address her bisexuality on the grounds that her relationships with women tended not to be disastrous, and therefore didn’t give her much material). Two people walked out halfway through, to her relief; they hadn’t been enjoying it, and because of the lighting, they were the only ones she could see.
After this I went to see Helen Lederer at the Book Festival. My interest in her stems from a radio programme in the eighties called In One Ear, which was a massive inspiration on my own comedy writing. As such, she can claim (at most, I suppose) one quarter of the inspiration for the solitary joke that I sold last year, and as a quarter of the fee for that was half of what I paid to see her, I reckon she owes me. Mostly her appearance took the form of an interview, during which Lee Randall occasionally managed to get a question while Helen just talked. It was a joy to watch all her old gestures and tropes, but it was also odd to see them happening while she seemed to be opening up about her emotions and various things that had happened in her past. She never seemed to come out character and take the mask off, while saying things that sounded as if she had. Which made me wonder if the “mask” was the real Helen Lederer, or if we all are. Which was perhaps a bit profound to be thinking of given that her book seems to be about a woman on a diet, or is it actually to the point? Brr.
After this I went to see Prey by Nicci Take. When I got here I almost left, as she seemed to be a drag act, and the prospect of an hour’s lip synching to Beyonce (which is how she started) didn’t appeal. But once she settled down and got on to the point of the show, things got more interesting. Nicci was a man who started dressing as a woman, and who then, much to her surprise (I don’t know where he or she is with pronouns, and suspect they’d be surprised and amused to hear the rest of us tying ourselves in knots over it) found herself on the receiving end of some fairly poor behaviour - not transphobia, but just everyday sexism from men who took her as a woman. The occasional unsound comment just emphasised the point that she hadn’t learnt about gender from a book or a workshop, but by being on the sharp end of behaviour that had previously been invisible. It was all more thought-provoking than the start of the show suggested.
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