Francesca Martinez: I'Mperfect

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

Most of us are defined by what we can do, not what we can't. Unless, of course, you're disabled.

That, at least theoretically, is the enticing premise behind Francesca Martinez's first full-length show. She's an actor whose appeared in Grange Hill, an award-winning stand-up and a writer - but these descriptions are always qualified by the adjective 'disabled'

This actually presents something of a dilemma. Having something that sets you apart from society is a boon for any stand-up. But in talking about her cerebral palsy, wouldn't she be perpetuating the billing of 'disabled comedian', rather than just plain 'comedian'?

It's a quandry that isn't satisfactorily resolved here. Of course she addresses the issue, but she also presents some traditional stand-up routines making no reference to it.

Sadly, these sections are quite pedestrian - perhaps for the very reason that they don't have that personal edge that makes the material about living with a disability so unique. Most comics could come up with a routine about advertising and branding to match Martinez's observations on the topic. But none could talk about the way people react to disabled people the way she does.

So half the show is incisive, personal and funny, the rest lacklustre and generic. And, though padded by a couple of sketches and an entertaining finale in which some reckless punter volunteers to let Martinez cut his hair, there isn't enough substance to justify a full hour.

Martinez used to joke that her full-length show was simply her brilliant 20-minute routine, but she walked to and from the microphone on her own. That could be a bit too close to the mark

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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