Sue Perkins: Spectacle Wearer Of The Year 2006

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

The most obvious question on seeing Sue Perkins name in the Fringe programme is: why? She’s already had the TV series – and with radio’s 99p Challenge proved her natural wit, even when sidekick Mel is away on maternal duties.

Perhaps the answer lies in her confession that her earnings plummeted 65 per cent in the year after she came out as a lesbian. Or perhaps that for all the broadcasting experience in the world, on the live stage, even such a comparatively small one as Pleasance Upstairs, is the only place to really test your mettle.

It’s a test she passes easily – if not with flying colours, then at least by enough to get through her comedian’s MoT at her first attempt as a solo stand-up. Even her self-proclaimed standing as ‘Croydon’s seventh-funniest brunette’ could rise soon.

Perkins isn’t really one for the jokes, instead she just likes to chat about everyday observations – and the conversation is most definitely one-way. A trip to London’s Imperial War Museum, for instance, offers enough material for ten minutes or so of witty commentary.

Other themes include the inanity of warning notice on movie posters, the ridiculous claims of the cosmetics industry or the folly of choosing London as the 2012 Olympic host. All straightforward stuff, and 24 hours later, you might be hard-pressed to remember much of it, but with Sue it’s more about going along for a jolly ride.

She’s an engaging, wryly self-deprecating raconteur with a light but sure touch. Behind the conversational style, she’s a literate writer, with elegant words, phrases and metaphors all lining up in neat procession. Take just one typical throwaway line, when she calls tuna ‘brainless blocks of protein that float towards canning factories’ – it might be only mildly amusing, but it’s a taut, efficient and very descriptive phrase.

A couple of clumsy callbacks put slight dents this slickness, but aside from that there’s an air of professionalism that pervades every aspect of her show. Never once do you feel as if you’re not in a safe pair of hands – even if you’re equally unlikely to think you’re in the presence of the next all-conquering comedy genius.

But ‘reliably amusing’ is still a surprisingly scarce attribute in comedy, so it’s still worth celebrating.

Review date: 1 Aug 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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