Brighton Fringe: Ria Lina: It's Not Easy Being Yellow

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Ria Lina’s debut hour is a loose mixture of passable stand-up and jaunty ukulele songs, but without a strong raison d’etre beyond apparently the need to fill the allotted time.

It’s Not Easy Being Yellow suggests insight about her mixed ethnicity, but she often sticks to the comic cliché that dad is from one country, mum from another, therefore part of her personality is all ‘this stereotype’ while the other part is all ‘this contrasting stereotype’.

In Lina’s case the two halves are German and Filipina, so annexation and mail-order brides are the order of the day, with one of the jollier of her tunes specifically about that latter topic. Lina has a strong cabaret-style singing voice, and the musical interludes – some of which she’s been performing on the circuit for the best part of a decade – entertain, even if they don’t inspire.

She is partly driven by sex gags and shock comedy, but her juxtaposition of cute and offensive doesn’t have the sting of Sarah Silverman, feeling more like a scramble to get a reaction, without precision or confidence. That’s especially true in the early part of the show, when she comes across as a rather insecure performer, over-eager to land laughs.

When she relaxes, her company is more amicable. She also starts to plays a little more with the stereotypes, talking about how that affects the way she is perceived rather than simply reinforcing them by repeating them. She talks, too, about being in a relationship with an older man and of having children and step-children which is amicable even if, in this work-in-progress, still in need of more punchlines.

As part of her engaging interactions with the audience, she asks us to try to sum her up in three words, after a comedy agent told her that she was hard to market as she couldn’t be so easily defined.

After an hour, the audience still struggle to do that – and it’s nothing to do with pigeonholes, but rather because Lina’s scattergun, often superficial, approach means her comedy and her personality are too fuzzily defined.

Review date: 9 May 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Hobgoblin

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