Jordan Gray: Is It A Bird? | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Jordan Gray: Is It A Bird?

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Trans women, whether they want such attention or not, are rarely far from the news headlines, as puce-faced bigots scream at earnest activists across the media. ‘Fun’ is not a word often attached to this divisive exercise.

Well, Jordan Gray is here to change all that. She identifies primarily as ‘talented’ and leads an hour of raucous stand-up and banging tunes in glorious celebration of herself and her transition. She’s giddy with excitement at being on stage, exuding the sort of loud, confident, over-the-top party spirit that’s stereotypically synonymous with Essex girls like her. 

Yes, she talks a bit like Russell Brand – but would never take herself as seriously as he does, even when there’s a sobering edge to what she’s talking about. Especially then, in fact. And she shares another trait with a different big-haired comedian, being as proficient and vigorous on the piano as Tim Minchin

One of her numbers even has a similar premise to the Aussie’s Woody Allen Jesus. She also sings of striking a deal with the devil and the clickbait that spreads online culture wars (‘nobody asked for a gender-neutral Potato Head’). Her first brush with fame came on The Voice, and she maintains the vivacious, extravagant showomanship of the finest cabaret star.

With her stand-up in the cleverly titled Is It A Bird?, Gray draws some parallels with superheroes. Why do so many people have an issue with trans women, but not with Bruce Wayne identifying as a bat, she ponders. She’s more of a Joker, anyway, leaving a trail of destruction in her anarchic wake.

Gray has a phone box on stage for a quick change into her own special costume for a closing segment that encapsulates the best spirit of a Fringe show: bold, provocative, and extraordinary – but played 100 per cent for laughs.

Elsewhere she offers some fresh insights into the stand-up clichés of the difference between men and women, given she can see it from both sides. There are also first-hand despatches from the journey she’s on and the reactions she gets – all punctuated with zingers of punchlines, casually tossed out as she rattles through the material. A tale that puts the ‘shag’ into shaggy dog story, in which she was misgendered by a pet, is slower in pace, and lower on laughs – although perhaps we all need an occasional break from Gray’s frenzied energy.

It's an anecdote which shows a different side to her away from the stage lights she's so at home under – another step in making herself relatable, even to those who don't share her wider experiences.  She depicts her life as a series of absurd situations which you just have to laugh at. Who can't identify with that?

Jordan Gray: Is It a Bird? is on at Assembly George Square at 10.25pm

Review date: 10 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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