Lou Sanders: Shame Pig | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Lou Sanders: Shame Pig

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Lou Sanders has been something of a hot mess, both in comedy and in life. But in Shame Pig she has found her focus. As she catalogues some of her sloppiest behaviour, she takes ownership of her mistakes, absolves herself through the laughter they generate, and moves on from them.

Her premise is that the concept of shame is unhealthy, a long-lasting, corrosive burden on self-esteem and good mental health causing people to dwell on foolish incidents that cannot be undone – not to mention being a centuries-old tool of oppression. But that, she is keen to stress, is different from the more short-lived emotion of embarrassment, a state of affairs with which she is all-too familiar.

This theme is explained up front, but if it sounds dry and worthy, fear not, for the sentiment is expressed through a series of frank and funny stories about her reckless behaviour, told with animated joy. This is a party, not a pity party, complete with little snippets of songs and jingles: ‘I know what boys like!’ trills one, while a Destiny’s Child hit becomes Say My Shame.

Sanders has got a big and dumb style, fast-paced as she rattles through the stories in an apparent scattergun style. She sometimes affects a tone of  faux arrogance – like a legend! – and often finds herself commenting about her own performance or occasional stumble. In the past she’s tended to let the digressions overwhelm the show, favouring spontaneous and strange over coherence. But here she’s in firmer control, the asides giving an extra spark before she gets back to the next mad story she wants to share; the scattergun is only an illusion.

Shame Pig might be a full-on show for lunchtime, with abortion gags at 12.30pm, but it’s gleeful more that dirty.  She takes the mickey out of herself, but isn’t self-deprecating as she matter-of-factly runs through her CV of wanton drunkenness and sexual escapades, a topic on which she’s positive and confident. There’s a great routine about her labia, silly and dirty at the same time, a tone which bloke comics have adopted when talking about their dicks for a long time, so it seems only fair she should claim it too. 

She offers  glimpses of deeper substance, such as the fact her father has been married seven times. It must have had some influence on her attitude to life, but she doesn’t really dwell. And while she share a #metoo experience – a really-shouldn’t-be-needed-but-sadly-is reminder that being sex-positive isn’t a green light – it’s not the focus of the entire hour.

Sanders does require a slight fudge on her shame-shaming message later on, for while that gnawing feeling can be unhealthy, it was surely shame that compelled her to go teetotal after a particularly sozzled night at the Machynlleth comedy festival, which seems to have gone beyond the usual stories of being a dickhead that we can all relate to.

But thank the gods of comedy that she  did, for figuratively cleaning up her act has literally cleaned up her act: giving her a sense of purpose and direction she previously lacked.

Review date: 27 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Monkey Barrel Comedy Club

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