Caught In The Act Of Being Myself
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2003
A stand-up one woman show, from Glasgow to Los Angeles to black men with big hands to talking animals. Shoes, hobbits and Kiwi sex symbols... Oh and don't forget me asking Russell Crowe if I could see his cock at the Baftas!
Janey Godley's not your average comedian.
In a world dominated by white 30-something blokes in T-shirts and a smattering of 'novelty value' acts from all the major minorities, Janey's what seems like a normal, 42-year-old, working-class Glaswegian mum.
Not that her life's been anything like normal: her mum was murdered and her body dumped in the canal; her uncle abused her as a child and he had him convicted 30 years later; her teenage daughter shacked up with a Kosovan refugee from a druglord's family; and she has spent her life surrounded by the consequences of heroin abuse.
Enough angles for you?
But none of this extraordinary family tragedy is ever mined for shock value, for pathos or to make the comedy seem grown-up and serious. It's just mentioned in passing, merely the launch pad for the next fast and funny anecdote.
Her family may provide the bulk of her material, but it's Godley's friendly manner and effusive banter that provides the laughs.
She takes her friendliness to extremes, personally welcoming the punters, chatting away to them and encouraging them to get to the bar before the show starts. "I am the comic," she reassured us, "not an overfriendly cleaner who's got up to give it a go."
Then she launches into her huge bank of anecdotes. But it's not her fascinating life that makes her such great comic, it's her natural funny bones. Her background may be a million miles from yours, but her experiences are universal. Or at least she makes it seem that way, which is a neat trick.
The bottom line is that she's great company - a cracking raconteur with a keen eye for spotting the funny side of everything.
She doesn't do structure, plucking the stories from random from her haphazard mental filing system, which means the hour perhaps lacks the variety of peaks an troughs a tighter performer would have - but that's a pedantic criticism of what is otherwise a brilliant hour's stand-up.
Godley doesn't have a vast marketing machine behind her, so chances are the casual comedy fan won't ever have heard of her. That situation surely won't last long. As I said, Janey Godley's not your average comedian.