Julie Jay: Oops, This Is Toxic | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Julie Jay: Oops, This Is Toxic

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

In Oops This Is Toxic, Irish comic Julie Jay offers an amiable journey through the misogyny of her youth, rather clunkily tied to the ups and downs of Britney Spears’s life and career. For example, we start when the singer was trying to make her name by touring the shopping malls of America, ‘meanwhile, I was on a journey of my own,’ Jay segues.

Generally, this involved trying to find validation in a male-dominated world by embracing the ladette culture seen as a feminist movement at the time. Jay hit the town, thinking happiness was to be found in male attention. It did not end well. Meanwhile, her belief that looking good was the goal for all women, as the media had taught her, came crashing down when she learned that for all her beauty, Princess Diana was unhappy.

Eloquent and affable, Jay gives us glimpses of her soul without fully baring it. She shares that she was admitted to mental hospital ,but her explanation that it was the consequence of a bad break-up seems to be leaving quite a lot out. But the pressures, external and internalised, are real - and she explains them well.

Britney is not the only 1990s icon she draws parallels with, as the show also features the likes of Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera and Lisa Left Eye Lopes. However, she bizarrely seems to consider the fact that Lopes’s partner Andre Rison stood by her in court after she burned down his house as a good thing, when clearly this was a horribly toxic relationship.

Jay is an engaging guide through her subject, making her points firmly but engagingly, never feeling like she’s on her soapbox. The sexism that pervaded society often speaks for itself – illustrated by a horrible X-Factor clip in which Simon Cowell crushes a young woman’s self-worth by savaging her for being just a bit overweight.

The jokes are generally light and situational, and sometimes a bit clichéd. When she was a teacher and a teenage pupil called her a ‘slut’ the punchline is to comment ‘how did he know?’ and observe that she has spices older than him. Even the opening is the unironic use of that leaden public speaking technique of telling us how Miriam Webster’s dictionary defines her theme is.

Nonetheless, this is an entertaining show with a purpose, containing the building blocks for something even better.

• Julie Jay: Oops, This Is Toxic is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot at 3.20pm

Review date: 21 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon Teviot

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