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Sarah Millican: Thoroughly Modern Millican

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

The theme for Sarah Millican’s latest show is a gift for critics – it’s all about how she’s risk-averse.

Because her comedy is rarely, if ever, going to take a chance, being based so firmly in homely, comfortable domesticity. Equally, there’s no gamble in buying a ticket; you can be guaranteed a solid hour of charming anecdotes, easily identifiable situations, and the odd pun, all accompanied with a saucy self-deprecation. It’s that certainty that means in just four short years she’s become one of the biggest acts on the Fringe.

She splits the world into cautious dodgems and reckless bumper cars: ‘Live life to the full, that’s what it’s all about!’ she rallies, then undercuts with perfect timing. ‘No, it isn’t.’ She’s obviously a dodgem; she’s never taken drugs, preferring a Twix or a carvery, to Es and wizz, and a thrill for her is starting a new tea towel, not bungee jumping. ‘I had an apple the other day,’ she says with an air of adventure that reinforces the message – as well as her well-cultivated image as an exercise-shy cake-lover.

Such modest outlook is a snug fit for her warm Geordie tones, approachable manner and easy rapport with the audience. Maybe she reminds people of their Mam, but punters instantly find themselves comfortable in her confidence. When she asks for signs of falling in love, she gets such a delightfully romantic answer, ‘uncontrollable smiling’, it takes all her focus not to go off on a full-on conversation, ignoring the rest of the 750 people in the room.

That relaxed relationship between comic and performer is a two-way street, too. She feels completely at home sharing details of her life, from tender jokes with her boyfriend to … well, sexy times with her boyfriend that they can’t quite pull off, in that charmingly inept British way. That open honesty also extends to her love of sprouts: ‘I don’t mind telling you, I’m absolutely toxic,’ she says of her Christmas night flatulence. Thanks for sharing.

Her settled relationship with an obvious kindred spirit might make her more settled and cosy, although she does say that at the age of 36, she’s finally getting more confident, and feeling more womanly. Whether that will make her comedy more or less adventurous remains to be seen.

But this adept offering is perfect for the dodgems; a trusted and proven hour sure to generate if not ‘uncontrollable’ smiles, but plenty of grins and the odd hearty chuckle. Leave the bumper cars to fling themselves to the more obscure corners of the Fringe, and the very real possibility of disappointment you will never get with Millican.

Review date: 17 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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