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Diane Spencer: Lost In The Mouth Specific

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Chortle previously deemed James Dowdeswell to have the best title on the Fringe with My Granddad Was A Clown And Those Are Big Shoes To Fill. Now we have the leading contender for the worst: Diane Spencer’s meaningless tongue-twister Lost In The Mouth Specific. The obtuse wording – a spoonerism, of sorts, referring to the time she spend in the South Pacific, barely mentioned in the show anyway – must surely have put off countless punters.

Their loss. For this assured Fringe debut is a rollickingly good slice of frank, ungimmicky stand-up, with a delivery that’s both technically adroit and infused with her compelling personality.

Once over the preamble, blatantly engineered to ingratiate herself to the Scottish half of the audience, the hour comprises a couple or three extended routines, fluidly told. The first, about her childhood dreams of being an astronaut were thwarted by her academic incompetence is a typical tale of disappointment and stupidity, rife for self-deprecating quips. The teachers who let her down gently might have had a point, though – as it took her five years to realise she was being insulted.

So instead of NASA, found herself working in a screw factory, whose workforce of grotesques is entertainingly evoked here, before she landed a job as a drama teacher, employing the performance skills so clearly on display in her stand-up.

It’s charmingly told, so it comes as a surprise when she takes a sharp turn to the dirty. But it turns out that’s where her talents lie. She comes to the fore with an ikky bit about childbirth, an uproarious line about oral sex and a few other below-the-belt jibes, that are far better than the ‘ugly ginger’ jokes, which she turns to a little too easily, especially given how attractive she is.

This all comes together in her tour-de-force closing routine, an essentially disgusting tale of the first comedy gig she performed in the UK, just hours after making the trip from New Zealand with a terrible digestive complaint. It’s hideously graphic, but Spencer has the charisma to make it funny without being too offensive.

She could be the female Jim Jefferies, with an honesty and humility that makes her abject embarrassment riotously hilarious. This impressive routine, set largely in the backstage toilets, also suggests a much more appropriate title for the show: Shits And Giggles

Review date: 30 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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