Sara Pascoe

Sara Pascoe

Nominated for best show at the 2014 Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Awards and winner of the 2014 Chortle Breakthrough Award, Sara Pascoe has been working as a comedy actor, sketch performer, improviser and writer since 2006, when she joined the Newsreue topical sketch show. She started stand-up in late 2007 and the following year was a runner-up in the Funny Women competition and placed third in the So You Think You're Funny? new act competition.

In 2009, she had a regular role in the Channel 4 sitcom Free Agents as the disrespectful assistant, Emma.

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Sara Pascoe: Success Story

Review of the comedian's new tour about motherhood and low-level fame

The Success Story title of her new tour, Sara Pascoe tells us, is ironic. Though by most metrics – including her own childhood ambition to be on TV - she’s doing rather well for herself, she is currently at the level of demi-fame that she needs to explain it. Even she struggles to believe it: encounters with Buzz Aldrin or Geri Horner are so unlikely they must be figments of her imagination, right?

She’s not the first comedian to share stories of her limited celebrity, but she has some cracking anecdotes as a representative of a normal person on the foothills of fame. You will, if it’s possible, think even less of James Corden after this.

From being booked to play Hugh Grant’s birthday party to pretending to be a Pete Burns superfan for a reality TV series, Pascoe has a strong array of showbiz encounters to turn into jolly, self-effacing anecdotes, even if you might have heard her tell some of them in the media before.

And though presented as a frank, slightly scatty, friendly chat there’s robust engineering behind her stories, which are expertly framed. By way of structure the first half is bookended with her disastrous teenage appearance on Michael Barrymore’s public talent contest My Kind Of People, and ends with her performing no better three-and-a-bit decades later, and now a supposed professional, on All Together Now.

Into this she skilfully weaves ideas of a simpler times in her 1990s youth, the unasked-for criticism that she considers a ‘tax’ on her dream job, and the double-edged sword of going to therapy.

Part two is almost a separate show, this one underpinned by a different notion of success: the result of fertility treatment that, after years of trying, delivered her a son at the age of 40.

Again she finds new things to say on parenthood, from imaging her efforts to become pregnant as an application process for a job she never thought she wanted, to her incredulity at being someone’s mum – and how motherhood has upended all her beliefs now there’s a small human she holds dearer than any principle.

This segment proves Pascoe a remarkably philosophical comedian. Though she wears her self-analysis lightly, the personal touch, with a flick of scientific research to back up her ideas, adds depth and connection to gags about parenthood. But even routines on straightforward topics such as the tendency for babies now to be given ‘old people’ names do not come across as generic, given that she tackles them with such wit and flair.

This section ends with something of a damp squib routine, about going to a coke-fuelled party she didn’t really want to be part of. Her set-up is a delight as she bonds with the audience by struggling with the ethics of naming the comedians involved (sadly she ultimately demurs – at least tonight) but otherwise it goes nowhere.

It’s a rare misstep for an accomplished show, touching on matters of substance, and illustrated with some cracking yarns. Delivered with a light and delightful touch, Success Story is the second thing Pascoe can be proud of having given birth to this year.

Sara Pascoe: Success Story is on tour until April.  Sara ​Pascoe tour dates.

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Published: 21 Nov 2022

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Book (2023)
Weirdo by Sara Pascoe

Book (2019)
Sex Power Money

Book (2016)
Sara Pascoe: Animal

DVD (2011)
Campus: Series 1


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