Susie McCabe: Femme Fatality | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Susie McCabe: Femme Fatality

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Another comedian, another show about gender and identity. But while this is one of her more personal shows, Susie McCabe is here only to crack jokes – and plenty of them – about her experiences. If there’s any more significant point to be made, that’s for the audience to figure out for themselves.

She notes that everyone seems to have a comment on womanhood these days – especially over-50s white men online – and so this is a take from someone who never fitted the ‘pink dresses and ribbons’ idea of femininity her dad always had in mind. As an adult, she wonders why there are no Dior adverts featuring women like her.

A strong strand of self-deprecation runs through Femme Fatality, but it comes from a place of strength and security in knowing who she is. She’s positively proud of living up to the stereotype of the ever-practical handywoman lesbian, getting stuff done. If there were struggles to get here – and no doubt there were – they do not feature in Femme Fatality. This is a celebration of herself now, not an examination of any difficulties of the past.  

McCabe was born in 1980, the year homosexuality was finally decriminalised in Scotland – 13 years after England and Wales – and she jokes her lesbianism was so powerful the law had to bend to accommodate her. 

Still, her youth was a time of gay panic. Every queer man on TV would end up dying of Aids. Sandi Toksvig and Sue Perkins were early sapphic icons – though as Cambridge graduates, they were not entirely relatable to this working-class Glaswegian – nor was the dreariness of TV drama Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit exactly inspiring.

Things changed, of course, at least to an extent. Among the men in the building sites she worked on, ‘gay’ was the ultimate insult. However, the empath in Mcabe has some sympathy for the toxic masculinity behind such homophobic banter. 

Progress has been such that McCabe is getting married immediately after the Fringe, though she makes little of this, with her relationship kept largely out of the show. 

Along the way, she takes diversions into topics including the Antiques Roadshow – whose participants are again not exactly her demographic – and her mum dragging the whole family into her diet fads, which usually meant a minor switch to the brand of bread.

Such routines are hugely relatable, especially given the easy-going warmth she brings to every story she tells, right up to the uplifting ending. If there’s one place she has no trouble fitting in, that’s a comedy stage.

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Review date: 25 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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