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Sara Pascoe vs The Apocalypse

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Sara Pascoe opens her show by saying that last year’s Edinburgh hour attracted nine two-star reviews and contained a joke ‘so bad it made the news’; then tells us that she often ends up ploughing gigs into the ground, leaving the audience ‘awkward, disappointed and tense’.

Well, it’s not the end of the world; even if that is the theme of this follow-up, which she gets around to once she’s lowered our expectations.

She was probably right to do so, because she is not a dynamic performer who’s going to wow us with metaphorical fireworks. Her voice is a dry deadpan, the delivery almost soporific and the visuals extend to some hastily home-made PowerPoint slides, largely created by crayon.

The premise is that she is the last woman alive following the 2012 Armageddon supposedly predicted by the Mayans; so she can lay down the rules for the new society. At some point there would need to be other people for this to work, but that point is rather brushed over. However if you come to Pascoe’s world expecting logic, you’ve come to the wrong place.

She has the sort of weird surrealism of Noel Fielding, but whereas he gets excited by the nonsensical ideas he conjures up, she treats them as if they are boring and mundane. Her warped sensibilities are then applied to such pre-apocalyptic problems as pornography objectifying women and the Israeli-Palestine situation and post-apocalyptic problems such as repopulating the planet from a very restricted gene pool.

These are mixed in with her more personal baggage, such as relationship failures, sibling rivalry and all-consuming crush on Dizzee Rascal. The comedy works best when she’s being self-deprecating about herself, which we can identify with, rather than being self-deprecating about the material, which can prompt us to think she might have a point.

As she suggested it might, the show does indeed start to run out steam. But there are some good jokes before we get there, especially when she focus on the vaguely plausible, such as hoodwinking out-of-work actors into becoming teachers, rather than the obviously absurd. That said a mime section where she recreates one-woman versions of plays suggested by the audience – even if she’s never actually seen them – hits paydirt.

As part of the expectation-lowering into, Pascoe said she has at least something for everyone, but that no one will enjoy it all. As assessments go, that seems reasonable enough.

Review date: 19 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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