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Sally-Anne Hayward: Don’t Judge Me

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Don’t judge me? Fat chance of that happening at the Edinburgh Fringe. But it’s hard to envisage Sally-Anne Hayward receiving any complaints for this robustly funny hour of no-frills stand-up.

Even though she’s in a graveyard lunchtime slot, she has more enthusiasm than anyone has any right to be at such an early hour, and her lively engagement with the audience, although little more than seeking some affirmation for the material ahead, adds an engaging conversational air.

She has no grand designs for her hour, just observations from her life such as dead-end jobs, annoying parents and the joys of living alone – as well as wider observations; not that there was anything in the personal sections that everyone in the room wasn’t instantly identifying with.

Now and again she touches on the formulaic, such as imagining the sat nav as a real person nagging at her driving, and there are a couple of rather obvious pull-back jokes towards the start. But generally, although her topics are familiar, her take on them isn’t, a feeling boosted by the freshness in her chatty delivery.

Even getting old, another comic staple, is something she largely embraces, and how refreshing is it to hear a comic say ‘I like my boyfriend…’ rather than launch into a miserable invective about relationship woes and unhappy compromise. There’s some slightly adult content, but she delivers it with honest chirpiness.

Hayward’s a mainstream act in the best traditions of the word, talking about shared experience with a winning wit that has a broad appeal. She perhaps needs a shot more distinctiveness and ought to lose the last couple of tired techniques she occasionally employs, but she’s emerging as a reliable crowd-pleaser, backing up her innate effusive likeability with straightforward but effective writing. She may have a midday slot, but she’s a primetime act.

Review date: 16 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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