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Meryl O'Rourke: Bad Mother

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Corry Shaw

When an act heavily themes an hour they run the risk of losing some of the funny, ending up with a lecture more than a comedy show. The risk is even greater if your theme is your family’s traumatic encounters with the Nazis and their resulting deportation to the UK.

Meryl O'Rourke has an interesting ancestry, and warns us at the top of the show that despite her lunchtime timeslot that there will be dark humour because her family is ‘pretty fucked up’. And it's not surprising that they are, given that her infant mother was held out of a window by a Nazi to force her grandfather to go quietly to Dachau concentration camp. The resulting emotional effect on O'Rourkes mother has been passed down to her daughter, and O'Rourke puts a great deal of her own neurosis down to her family history.

On top of this, her own father died before O'Rourke was eight and her mother took solace in the world of celebrity, essentially forcing O'Rourke into a life of stalking as a teenager, many an hour was spent outside the houses of West End stars. It takes most of the show to get to the more light-hearted stories of Toyah and Barrymore where the laughs start.

This really is a show of two parts, the darker more troubling material about her family is hugely interesting and certainly worth hearing but O'Rourke has quite clearly and understandably struggled to find jokes about such a horrific experience. That said, if she chose to return with a full hour’s straight monologue on the story I would definitely pay to listen to it, I'm just not convinced that she has the skill or experience to make it funny.

The second part of the show about her run-ins with Drop The Dead Donkey's Neil Pearson make much more palatable comedy fodder and the Light Relief is welcome, if not hysterically funny or as interesting as the section preceding it. O'Rourke has tried to tie the two pieces together, blaming her father issues for her search for an older, loving man and her mother issues for ending up entangled with someone she had been stalking as a teenager. But it is such a stark contrast to the tales from Germany that the two narratives just don't sit well together at all.

O'Rourke is great at telling a story, she definitely has some corkers to tell, but she does need to work on making them a whole lot more funny and ensuring that her hour flows as a whole.

Review date: 19 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Corry Shaw

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