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Jen Brister: Jen Brister is British(ish)

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Julian Hall

Jen Brister's mum is Spanish but she, herself, was born and raised in England. The contrast between the exuberance of her parent and the reserved British nature gets the comedian thinking about her own identity and where exactly she belongs on the spectrum of Britishness.

So, goes the idea behind the show at least. In reality what we have is a premise that allows her to go on a supermarket sweep of stereotypical attributes.

Us Brits, we don't have opinions but hate queue-jumpers and make great play of boring our eyes into the back of them. Or at least Brister makes great play of this, because of her tendency to go above and beyond the duty of a comic to exaggerate.

In fact it's quite possible that this show could have been done in half the time, but still have felt like it dragged, due to Brister's habit of over-inflating every little detail in order to squeeze some comedy out of it, dragging out what is already a thin premise.

Another example of this comes when she is laying into Britain's colonial past, reading out a list of colonies while she masturbates. Sounds avant-garde? Well, the focus is mainly on Britser's dramatic and booming delivery and any merit seems lost in this mini-monologue that moves me only to think, ‘What do you want from us? Apologise for something we weren't around for in the first place?’

Besides, it's not as if Brister can take the moral high ground with her impression later of an unintelligible Scot who, it transpires, works in the Tourist Information Office. Not a bad gag in its delivery but another example of the hackneyed tour we're on.

Undoubtedly, Brister is a confident and forthright performer with presence but all too often these qualities are abused, and hand-in-hand with exaggerations comes Brister's assumption that shouting means funny. No, it's not just sketch troupes that make this mistake.

The show ends with two stories, one about porn that bears no relation to the theme and contains within it some good observations as well as an interminable playlet, and another that tries to wrap up the theme with a weak callback.

Disappointing. No -ish, no buts.


Review date: 19 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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