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Diane Spencer: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Julian Hall

Diane Spencer is sharper this year – both in terms of image and act. Her beehive hairdo makes her look like a ginger Dusty Springfield, while her ‘inappropriate’ material, juxtaposed with her posh girl delivery, makes her a deviant Jane Asher.

Disposing the ploy of an overarching narrative, as she attempted last year, seems to have given her a freer reign. Spencer has brought her own glitter to distract from anything she thinks she can’t get away with (in particular her opener about masturbating too much), but she needn’t have bothered. She’s less mannered, meaning that she serves up her strange brews about inappropriate fancy dress, the genesis of ginger and the finer points of babysitting, with the right amount of twinkling slyness.

Though her bad taste is still an acquired one, she prefaces her show this year with the notion of taking offence as theft. Meanwhile, she lets weird incidents find her as much as deliberately going out looking for them, For example, putting this dysfunctional dame her in charge of an infant scared of monsters in his room was always going to go badly. In the end her chosen coping method of donning kitchen pans for protection, and watching Alien, is the most orthodox coping mechanism Spencer can muster.

Occasionally, the inappropriate misadventure is alcohol-fuelled, making her the victim of her own lewdness. She ‘time-travels’ to a point beyond the embarrassment for others and reaps the morning-after punishment.

When she is the victim, for example in the aftermath of her sister’s wedding, it’s much more fun than her deliberate attempts to act up, including her premeditated choice of bad-taste  costume for a fancy dress party and her attempts to scare children at aquariums.

Meanwhile, her routine on how ginger people are made is not so self-deprecating as it sounds. She describes procreating couples ‘throwing the ginger dice’, making the hair colouring feel like more of a threat than a curse.

Though exhibiting a more low-status side for her comedy, Spencer likes to come out on top, as her ending reinforces. She has emerged as the winner over her format this year, for sure.

Review date: 13 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Julian Hall
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon Teviot

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