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Searching For Harry
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Shelley Cooper: It Could Be You
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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Shelley Cooper: It Could Be You
Shelley Cooper is a one-off, a hilarious comic who happens to be transgender. Her second one-woman Edinburgh show will challenge some of the female/male stereotypes and the differences between men and women including orgasms.
Shelley Cooper's wise enough to know her show has a certain curiosity value that appeals to the voyeur in everyone. After all, there aren't that many sex-change comedians on the Fringe.
It's not an element she panders too, however, instead taking a very matter-of-fact approach to her experiences of being transgendered. But it does influence her choice of material, with this, her second Fringe show, exploring the narrowing of the gender divide.
Some of this is physical - the oestrogen that the contraceptive pill has introduced to our water supply reduces sperm counts, for instance and some of it psychological as men and women increasingly take each other's roles in the family and at work.
And if there's anyone qualified to talk about the feminisation of men, it's surely someone whose gone the whole hog, giving Cooper the opportunity to weave personal stories with universal observations.
But in its execution, this show isn't as good as it promises to be, especially the weak observational material straight out of the Men Are From Mars canon. Men are better at making decisions, women are more emotionally aware, apparently.
Cooper isn't a natural performer, by any means, but she does manage to make even the drabbest of truisms sound interesting, which is a handy trick for a comic to have.
But the main problem is the lack of a sharp comic focus on her material. She actively seems to duck punchlines, and when one does arise, she seems embarrassed by it, and so lets follow-up tag lines go begging. This is where her relative inexperience shows.
Since she's been under the scalpel, perhaps she should do the same with her script. Drafting in an experienced comic as a co-writer to release the potential could pay huge dividends.
As it is, the framework for a good show is there, irregardless its weak points, but she struggles to find sturdy material to attach to it.
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