Ava Vidal – Original Review | Review by Steve Bennett

Ava Vidal – Original Review

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Ava Vidal’s biggest asset is her stage presence. Confident, commanding, yet low-key, she exudes a cool authority that audiences are instinctively drawn towards. After all, she was once a prison guard, so it’ll take more than a boisterous comedy club to rattle her.

Her compelling style means she doesn’t have to attack the crowd with a relentless barrage of gags, instead she draws them in by unhurriedly expressing her opinions or relating her experiences. Plenty of comics have higher gag counts – and Vidal’s poise does let her get away with quite long gaps between punchlines – but many fewer are so interesting in what they have to say.

A rollercoaster life has given her the credentials to have insight across a range of social topics. Obviously she’s black and female, but she’s also been a teenage single mum, a prison officer, a victim of domestic abuse and a boarding-school rebel – yet she never fits the stereotypes of any of them.

This CV sounds as if she’s going to be loftily serious, and many of her routines do indeed start that way; but then they’ll end with a silly joke or sarcasm-laced putdown, defusing the atmosphere of gravity she’s built up.

Some of the more personal anecdotes don’t have this clout, mind, and these can come across as if she’s pettily rerunning arguments she’s had just to repeat whatever triumphant comeback put her quarrellers in their place. The insults are often deliciously vicious, but they’re aimed at people we don’t know, so it’s hard to know if they’re deserved and where your sympathies should lie.

But when there’s some sort of bigger point, or unexpected insight underpinning her solid gags, it proves an attractive mix.

Review date: 28 Nov 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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