Bethany Black: (Extra)Ordinary | Review by Paul Fleckney
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Bethany Black: (Extra)Ordinary

Note: This review is from 2016

Review by Paul Fleckney

From the set of Doctor Who to the tiny Stand 2 in front of about 15 people. Bethany Black is used to life’s ups and downs, as her show (Extra)Ordinary amply testifies. It’s the story of the last six or seven years of her life, which have been dramatic to say the least – death, addiction to hard drugs and heartbreak just for starters.

A pity party it is not, though, as Black has obviously put the bad times behind her sufficiently to turn it into good comedy. She tells her story in an entirely engaging way and there are a handful of high-quality gags, such as her one about how Jesus would make a good stand-up comic, and on her reclaiming 'cis' from those who find it offensive.

Given the autobiographical nature of the show, self-indulgence was always a danger and it does stray into that territory sometimes – more in tone than content. It sometimes feels like it’s wallowing a bit too much in its own outrageousness. Similarly, there are too many instances of self-reference, dwelling on which jokes go over some people’s heads and which are her favourite despite only being understood by a few people. I got the sense that some people who’d been on board up to that point, switched off a bit after the creation of an in-crowd and an out-crowd. Stewart Lee has a lot to answer for.

Still, the overall quality was there, and (Extra)Ordinary benefits from being interesting, too. Aside from reporting on her considerable life experience, Black also becomes our correspondent giving us the inside track on the Doctor Who set, where she rubbed shoulders with Peter Capaldi and David Tennant

It’s this acting section that also means Black became part of the conversation about Germaine Greer, when she said that transgender women like Black are 'not women'. Black could have expounded on this subject and taken the show off in a more political direction. As it happens I think it was sound judgment to simply get the (good) gag and move on.

Review date: 14 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney
Reviewed at: Stand 2

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