Adele Cliff: Undershare

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

As the title suggests, Adele Cliff is not good at opening up about her inner feelings. So this is not a show scratching deep into her psyche: we learn she’s polite and that her last relationship was based mainly on banter, and that’s about it.

The concept of sharing could also be applied to everything from food to flats, of course, and Cliff is keen to keep reasserting how routines can be tied back to that central idea. 

But unfortunately she’s put concept first – including a neat thematic device revealed at the end – and jokes a long way back. That’s a surprise for a comedian who’s earned a reputation on the circuit for penning pithy puns, that form most loved by comedians who don’t want to reveal any of themselves on stage. ‘You try to turn everything into a joke,’ is a charge loved ones have levelled at her, but she’s not trying hard enough to do that here.

Some of the wordplay is both contrived and obvious: a comment that she likes to watch TV at an angle generating lines about being ‘obtuse’ etc. And that’s the right adjective for some of the more convoluted jokes: such as the notion that her superstitious mum likes to dip her black cat’s paws in ink. The thinking, Cliff has to explain, is that she’ll then leave footprints around the house so mum won’t cross her path. There’s too much information there you have to piece together for a mild joke.

The trifling central story is convoluted and over-padded. She returns to flippant points, such as her supposed desire to be a spy, as if they were crucial when all they really do is steal momentum for the sake of another half-hearted punchline. At one point, she takes a good minute or so talking us through a video of a lion on YouTube for almost no effect.

Cliff is personable, and a fair few of the lines are smile-inducing, which just-about keeps us engaged. But very rarely are gags laugh-out-loud and the whole premise shallow, making this seem like an inconsequential way of spending an hour. A disappointing offering from a promising comedian.

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Published: 10 Aug 2019

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Adele Cliff: Cliff Notes


Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Adele Cliff: Undershare


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