Claire Hooper: Show Girl

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Last year, in both Melbourne and Edinburgh, Claire Hooper performed Oh!, a modestly wonderful show written without words in case she lost her voice in a throat operation. So, how do you follow up such an impressive high-concept debut?

The answer is, you don’t really try. Show Girl is a much more of a straightforward stand-up prospect, detailing her own failings – in particular her tendency to become tongue-tied and clumsy around boys she fancies.

If that sounds a little ‘girlie’, reflecting the concerns of a naïve high school pupil rather than a smart, attractive 30-year-old woman – well it is. But the allure of the show is that it’s done with such innocent, honest charm that you gradually become hooked, feeling for Hooper as she details every foot-in-mouth gaffe she makes.

The title Show Girl comes either from her self-appointed status as the ‘Kylie of comedy’, or from the time she compered a male stripper night in semi-rural Western Australia – a booking she felt ill-equipped to do. (‘How much is she going to show?’ teases the ill-conceived description) But neither story provides the best introduction into the rest of the hour, but getting started is her only real weakness.

Ironically, given the strip night debacle, she has also supported Puppetry of the Penis on tour in Australia, which provides happier memories. And away from these adult shows, she is sometimes a children’s entertainer, too, prancing around like a fool in an ill-fitting ‘unitard’. But whatever she does, you can be sure her anecdotes will end up in acute humiliation.

It’s her frankness in re-living the shame, and the way she descriptively builds up each tale so you fully empathise with her embarrassment, that makes for such an appealing hour. Laughing at the awkwardness of others is always a winner.

Her delivery is very animated, using those kids’ theatre skills to prance and mime her way through everything. It’s sometimes overdone – and she puts a lot of misplaced faith in the inherent hilarity of bad dance – but generally adds to the enjoyment.

Show Girl may not be as unforgettable as Oh!, but it does go a long way to establishing Hooper as one of the more quirky, interesting stand-ups to keep an eye on.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2007

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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