Sue Perkins: The Disappointing Second Show

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

In some, but not all, of the publicity for this hour, it is titled The Disappointing Second Show. Well, at least that should get trading standards off her back; for Sue Perkins' return to Edinburgh is a weary, lacklustre affair.

She's been touring for most of the 11 months since she was last here, and that informs her material: from poor-quality regional tourists attractions to local DJs she endured en route. But the sarcastic observations she makes are so inconsequential as to be barely worth mentioning.

This is very underwritten stand-up, as if the first thing that pops into her head is the be all and end all of a topic, without any need to delve deeper. Isn't the Surveillance bit of the Mirror's 3am Girls' column trivial? Isn't government advice on bird flu stupid? Isn't the Microsoft paper clip annoying? Isn't highlighting the bleeding obvious utterly pointless?

Some gags are hugely dated, too. Spare us another comic who hilariously misinterprets the 'slow children' sign, or who astutely observes that cloning Dolly the sheep ­ which happened ten years ago, by the way ­ was a waste of time as sheep all look the same anyway.

It seems such a waste, as Perkins is an obviously intelligent woman, self-deprecating and charming on stage, with a nice turn of phrase. But all that is squandered on some of the most pedestrian material around.

There's a good routine on being told during her Catholic education that the Pope cannot err, leading on to patron saints of obscure causes; but for every good minute, there's five poor ones. The segment on coming out to her parents, for example, is the most blandly impersonal treatment of a personal subject you will find.

From all this lightweight dross, Perkins manages to pull out a wonderful, quietly moving, conclusion totally out of kilter with the rest of the show, relying on the most touching and unexpected deployment of the comic callback technique you could hope for. How something so beautiful can top off something so bland is a mystery.

Steve Bennett


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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