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Susan Calman: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

‘I want people to say Susan Calman is just like everyone else,’ says the comic as she tearfully pleads for equality for gay marriage at the end of her show.

That will never happen. Not the gay marriage thing, but Calman being referred to as being ‘just like everyone else’ – and praise the apparently homophobic Lord for that fact. For although she is an apparently respectable Radio 4  regular now, her behaviour at home is what you might call quirky. No, not quirky. Certifiable.

The backbone of This Lady’s Not For Turning Either is an hilarious list of reasons why no one should marry her, winningly confessional and more than a little unsettling as she describes how she takes her love of Prime Suspect or her three cats to unhealthy obsessions. That she defiantly insists all this is all perfectly normal, while acknowledging that the more well-balanced in society might not, heightens the ridiculousness of it all. But  you can only admire her commitment. We possibly didn’t need to hear her entire DCI Susan Tennison fantasy – but it proves Calman really is this odd.

Yet despite this catalogue of defects, she did find someone with whom to tie the knot – which is not entirely surprising as she has an irresistibly likeable presence. Her shame-free openness endears her to the audience, who she address like an affectionate friend she’s known for years, and her banter is simultaneously self-deprecating and defiant. How very Glasgow.

However, we mustn’t say that Calman got ‘married’, as apparently that’s important to some people. The arbitrary distinction that says a long-term lesbian couple making a lifelong commitment is somehow more detrimental to the ‘institute’ of marriage than heterosexual Britney Spears drunkenly getting hitched for 55 hours means Calman and her wife couldn’t have The Proclaimers’ Let’s Get Married played at their ceremony, as they wanted. Although, as she explains with typically sardonic wit, they could have had Darth Vader’s Imperial March from Star Wars.

Despite such petty obstacles that stop her being properly wed in the eyes of the state, Calman is joyously upbeat about life; and she gets the crowd to feel the same way. Her opening gambit, to get us to holler and chant as if she were a stadium-filler might be a little cheesy – but she’s so personable we all go along with it, and feel the better for it.

It’s a feeling that doesn’t go away, despite the odd dip, throughout the whole hour of effortlessly engaging stand-up.

Review date: 4 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

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