Sarah Millican: Home Bird | Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Heaxgon, Reading

Sarah Millican: Home Bird

Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Heaxgon, Reading

Sarah Millican is living proof, if ever it were needed, that in comedy it's so often not what you say than how you say it.

She does an anal sex gag right off the bat, focusses attention on her 'claggy' nether regions and starts the second half talking in graphic detail about her bowel movements. Were she a stereotypical male club comic, this would all seem pretty grubby.

But in the same way a flamboyantly camp entertainer can double-entendre his way through images some might otherwise find unpalatable, Millican channels every plentiful ounce of her warm-hearted mumsy charm to get away with the most filthy material. If it comes from a stand-up wearing animal slippers, as she does on stage, it surely can't be offensive.

She euphemistically refers to 'down there', with accompanying gesture, as if she's in a Les Dawson Cissie & Ada sketch, but in reality it does nothing to disguise whatever uncompromisingly vivid picture she's about to paint.

Food and filth are her trump cards, which she lays down throughout this two-hour show – but although the temptation is to reduce her whole output to that, and not without justification, there is more to her comedy than that.

The Home Bird title suggests one angle, that she she wants to slow down and enjoy a simpler life, secure in her nest she's beginning to build. Not that she's ever going to be a domestic goddess, as padding around in pyjamas is ambition enough for her.

So stratospheric has been her rise, that she's become something of a workaholic in the five or six years since she came on to the comedy scene, but she's decided that's not all she wants. She's finally brought a house, got a brace of cats and trying to embrace cooking.

Her shtick is to be like the gossipy best friend, so makes no secret of her divorce and shares vignettes from her seven-year relationship, whether it's the silly jokes they share or an anecdote about a trip to Warwick Castle, not the most heavily exploited of comedy topics, but one which shows her ability to hold a longer narrative. An even longer story about a sad moment of disillusionment with her ex-husband, which dovetails into a tale about Margaret Thatcher, further demonstrates her ability to hold an audience in the palm of her hand, after winning their trust with her disarmingly unaffected delivery and frequent asking of questions to invoke effortlessly engaging to-and-fro.

Importantly, although the embroidered retelling of anecdotes is a big part of the show, she's also more than capable of delivering a short, sharp gag... or, better yet, just suggesting an idea and letting the listener make the rewarding leap to their own, dirty, punchline. A couple of well-targeted C-bombs show she's capable of viciously pointed humour, but largely she keeps that sheathed in favour of the spirit of the indiscreet mate who shares too much. And in that, she excels.

Review date: 4 Nov 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Reading Hexagon

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