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Tiffany Stevenson: Along Came A Spider – Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Nione Meakin

Has Tiffany Stevenson ever mentioned she used to be a model? If not, she more than makes up for it in this predictable though tolerable show, her solo debut.

Along Came A Spider is the story of how Stevenson left the world of fashion after finding it, to her apparent surprise, rather vacuous. There followed an existential crisis, after which she fell into TV acting (which she also thought vacuous) and now she's here at the Edinburgh Fringe having found her calling in stand-up. Running alongside this - and it's as baffling as it sounds - is the theme of spiders. Apparently it's something to do spinning a web, or getting caught in one...and then finding your 'inner spider'. Hmmm.

Spider nonsense aside, Stevenson is a competent stand-up, with some well-crafted material. But she appears oblivious to how hackneyed some topics have become. It's hard to imagine what mileage might be left in chav-bashing, Scottish stereotype or posh girls and she certainly doesn't uncover any. What she does do is try to get away with jokes so familiar it feels like they were written several centuries ago.

 Even on the subject of her own life story, she manages to present the most generic observation as if it were something unique to her. It will come as little shock to most to hear modelling is pretty shallow or a lot of the girls have eating disorders. So we're unlikely to fall about laughing at a joke illustrating the point, especially when it's as weak as how she shouldn't mock bulimics ‘because they won't let it go. They just keep bringing it up’.

 Stevenson spends a lot of time bitchily deriding her 'idiot' former colleagues and, as if to prove how far removed she is from them, name drops Sartre, Unity Mitford and Richard Dawkins, rather pretentious segments that don't appear to be in the set for their comedy value. This might be easier to take if she didn't then undermine her intellectual showboating by detailing her terrible disillusionment at subsequent jobs working as a door girl in a West End night club and as an actor in Hollyoaks. Where did she look next for spiritual fulfillment? Heat magazine?

Stevenson is a confident performer, with a good sense of timing and a smattering of decent jokes. If she loses the misguided smugness and replaces it with some original opinions, she could find stand-up her least disappointing career move yet. If she thinks it's going to be any less packed with vanity and self-obsession, however...

Review date: 18 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin

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