Sarah Millican: Control Enthusiast | Gig review by Steve Bennett

Sarah Millican: Control Enthusiast

Gig review by Steve Bennett

There are absolutely zero surprises in Sarah Millican’s latest tour, another bawdy, smutty romp through the less savoury aspects of everyday life, all delivered with her cheery, unabashed honesty.

More of the same will delight the army of fans that enable this mammoth Control Enthusiast tour – and waves of shocked laughter certainly filled Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre tonight. But while there might be shock, there’s little surprise.

In the space of maybe five minutes, South Shields’ favourite filth-peddler told gags in which the key words of the punchlines were ‘cock’, ‘fanny’, ‘tits’, ’splayed arsehole’ and – for variety – ‘pudding’. For her, mentioning her sanitary towel is the icebreaker, and the set, rarely goes much above the belt.

Her motto is pretty much ‘I couldn’t give a shit’, as she tramples over polite sensibilities to tell it like it is as a middle-aged, proudly normal woman in an affectionate but unromantic long-term relationship. She confesses to having no maternal instincts but does have a love of pets – which provide her with another bunch of animalistic bodily functions to talk about.

That normality is key to her appeal, allowing her audience see themselves reflected in her, even if they would never be so vulgar as to tell strangers the things Millican does. As if to prove her Everywoman credentials (or should that be crude-entials?) she tells of how she turned down a gig at the Queen’s jubilee to go and pick up a kitten.

Her gossipy nature extends to a few bits of banter with the audience, and although she’s quick with a Comeback, The interactions are aimed at teeing up chunks of material rather than sparking freewheeling conversation. We take it from the  title of this show that she’s a control freak, so she’s unlikely to go the full Ross Noble. However, the Control Enthusiast angle doesn’t get any explicit airing – the show’s title could be anything; there’s no big theme here.

There are a couple of glancing mentions of body image issues, which reinforce her normality against the twig-thin celebrities who otherwise dominate TV. However, routines about her husband (Mock The Week regular Gary Delaney) being useless in all matters domestic plays exactly to gender stereotypes. 

In real life, Millican’s a well-rounded woman with interests ranging from her feminist media project Standard Issue to her loneliness-busting #joinin Christmas Day Twitter initiative, but on stage she’s just the dirty auntie speaking freely about every function of her body – except her brain.

Millican leaves any agenda in the dressing room to serve up her trademark tell-it-like-it-is smut with the coarsely poetic turn of punchline, at which she excels. A writer at heart, she evokes some vividly disgusting images with an efficiency and precision of language that hits home. Her sizeable fanbase will love it, but waverers probably won’t be won over.

Support act Sally-Anne Hayward deserves a mention, too. She’s the Easter egg of comedy: sweet on the outside but empty within, with matter-of-factly heartless material, often about men and relationships, delivered with perfectly affable charm. She is a fine fit for Millican’s metier, with plenty of acidic punchlines to win over a crowd who were never expecting to see her.

Sarah Millican is on tour until December. Click here for dates.

Review date: 23 Jan 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Canterbury Marlowe Theatre

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.