Tiff Stevenson: Bombshell | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett
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Tiff Stevenson: Bombshell

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett

Tiff Stevenson's show takes a wide-ranging look at the major issues of the last 12 months, deeper than her appearances on Mock The Week would ever allow. But the show often becomes more polemic than stand-up, with as many applause breaks for points well-made than guttural laughter, possibly more.

She’s switched on and opinionated, frequently raising pertinent issues, but it often feels like she’s lecturing us rather than entertaining us. Certainly, the delivery is a one-way street, with little audience engagement.

Sometimes agenda and amusement come together. One of her earlier routines makes fine points about the shortcomings of progressive identity politics with a deft and witty analogy. Asserting herself to be a ’10’ on the attractiveness scale, she demands the entire world agree with her, else it’s virtually a hate crime. That is not the same as tolerating her decision to see herself as whatever she wants.

On the Grenfell Tower tragedy, this West London native is at her most sincere and most heartfelt, berating the hypocrisy that we get more annoyed with bad language than we do with truly appalling actions with genuine impact on people’s lives. It's a point you'll very probably have heard before, but Stevenson expresses it with passion and eloquence, even if she can’t see any funny in an issue so important.

That is, in fact, a recurring feeling: and you do start yearning for a more surprising thought or stronger joke. Yes, marketeers sell to women differently than they sell to men. Yes, voting in Trump is like America seeing the Brexit omnishambles and going ‘we can raise you on that insanity’. And yes she got nervous when she saw a brown man on the Tube with a rucksack the day after the London Bridge terror attacks. 'Am I a bad person?' she asks herself, only to decide: 'I came to the conclusion that I am not’. 

A cornerstone routine mocks the pomposity of the phrase ‘speaking as  a mother…’ but she’s far from the first comic to notice that (Bill Bailey being among them); while the Ukipper who called for the death penalty for suicide bombers proves to be a statement beyond parody.

Yet there’s original thought too. The suggestion that Trump would never have turned out to be such an arsehole had he spent time with his Scottish mother is skilfully executed, and she can coin a nifty aphorism.'Throwing people under the bus doesn't mean you get to ride on it,’ should be printed on T-shirts.

During the show, she expresses some wish that she could disengage herself from the toxic effects of the 24-hour news cycle and social media immersion. She seems to be in too deep to ever separate herself now, but a slight step back to put more jokes into her dogma would be welcome.

Review date: 18 Aug 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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