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Jessica Fostekew: Luxury Tramp

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

For an Edinburgh debut, this is the sort of rock-solid hour of unfussy stand-up you might expect from a much more experienced performer. Jessica Fostekew might have tried a little bit too hard to find a theme and a message on which to hook her material, but overall the hour is robust and the laughs frequent.

She considers herself the oxymoronic Luxury Tramp as she’s a little bit posh, a little bit grimy – she’ll wear designer perfume, but while eating kebabs off the floor. She was brought up in twee Swanage, and now, at 28, lives in rough Peckham.

Her stand-up generally occupies the more down-to-earth realm. She says her father had the ‘grubbiest’ sense of humour, and some of it has clearly passed down a generation; although her sensibilities are more like a schoolboy’s, sniggering at ‘Bonar Lane’ or the word ‘muff’, or regaling slightly naughty stories. Dad is just one column in her array of family tales, some of which are more sweet than funny, but all go towards her explanation of who she is.

The mood of the hour is that of a gossip with a confidante, regaling stories of inappropriate behaviour without self-censorship, revealing something of her personality without plunging full-on into soul-exposing therapy. She’d had that, too, she’s happy to confide, admitting to moments of bleakness following the break-up of a relationship.

But although the show is all about her, it’s really all about the jokes, and she doesn’t embark on a path unless there’s a funny at the end of it, and ideally a few smaller ones along the way too. She also has a winning delivery, adept at misdirection, and speaks with the confident cadence that instinctively matches the rhythm of a joke.

The show’s well structured with callbacks to key points; although the montage of speed dates she uses at one point to break up the monologue feels like an overused device. And the running message, that you shouldn’t try to change to be popular for other people, just be yourself, is almost cloyingly twee, even if she only deploys it in moderation. At least she has the grace to acknowledge the irony of a stand-up advising against desperately chasing approval and popularity…

She ultimately has a pragmatic approach to both life and stand-up; which has resulted in a no-nonsense debut that reliably entertains without pushing the boat too far out.

Review date: 7 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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