Celya AB: Swimming | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

Celya AB: Swimming

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Celya AB is well aware that the British believe French people like her to be arrogant and aloof. But it’s not a stereotype she’s keen to entertain, preferring her stand-up to be low-key and low-status. More astutely, it’s the British image of themselves which this Chortle best newcomer is most likely to mock in this assured but quietly spoken Fringe début (the accent feels necessary).

She moved from Paris to Birmingham (‘on purpose’, she jokes) eight years ago: long enough to have integrated but recent enough to maintain her outsider insight. This show’s title, Swimming, could be seen as a reference to her being fish out of water, if not the literal story of learning to swim late in life after bluffing to a date that she was adept in the pool.

This show is a more amorphous prospect than an hour of national differences, even if she does get good mileage out of gently tut-tutting our colonial past and sardonically noting how the mighty have fallen. Meandering unhurriedly between topics, she muses on mundanity of office work, lying on her CV both professionally and personally, her fight to get settled status in the UK, and the romcom trope of the ‘pick me girl’ who craves male attention by claiming she’s ‘not like other girls’.

That character is heavy with internalised misogyny, and AB is at her smartest when joking about how people present themselves to each other. In her case, she’s had her own name mansplained as ‘Celia’, and recalls the casting director who was so pleased to be speaking to a Muslim. Which she isn’t.

There isn’t any great structure, ethos or urgency to the show, which deprives it of a wow factor or the feeling she has opened your eyes to see the world in a markedly different way. However, Swimming shows AB to be a quietly classy comic starting to make waves.

Celya AB is on at Pleasance Courtyard at Plesance Courtyard at 7.15pm

Review date: 9 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

Live comedy picks

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.