Farah Sharp & Elaine Fellows: Greatest Hits | Review of two up-and-coming comedians
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Farah Sharp & Elaine Fellows: Greatest Hits

Review of two up-and-coming comedians

This double bill of up-and-coming comics looking for agents to elevate their careers marks both Farah Sharp and Elaine Fellows out as safe pairs of comedy hands, if not yet with the killer edge to make them must-sees.

After some by-the-book compering from Sharp – unearthing an ambiguous relationship and a boring job among the audience at the Camden Comedy Club –  Fellows has the first full set, and ultimately proves to have the stronger persona of the two.

The comic, who’s made the finals of a fair few new act contests, quickly establishes an appealingly blunt, cynical vibe, pointed as much at herself and her disappointing life as the outside world.

An opening gambit is that, at barely 30, she stuck with the unfortunate first name of a woman twice her age, and probably twice as stern. Fellows might well grow into it, mind, as she exudes an almost stereotypical non-nonsense Northern bluntness, apparently inherited from her mum.

Fellows Sr is a woman who’s not too vexed when her daughter goes missing, but the hilarious tooth fairy story – also troubling enough to give any kid nightmares – suggests unique levels of peculiarity. The absence of a father figure is touched upon, though only glancingly.

Although not falling too far from the parental tree, Fellows herself is more acceptably quirky, prone to oversharing – from a nice line about how her partner sees their on-off sex life to her confession that  ‘I’m not clingy BUT…’ –  yet always in a way that’s palatable for audiences. Even her yukky sexual accident isn’t too gross, at least by stand-up’s warped standards.  

An extended routine about what your swimming stroke says about you weaves into personal experience of her la-di-da health club and doesn’t outstay its welcome, even if it initially seems it might. Meanwhile, the weird hot water bottle story adds a note of intrigue to the set. On the downside jokes about her looking like a child don’t ring true – she might have outgrown those by now.

And to end, a demonstration of a hitherto undisplayed talent for physical comedy, leaving the room with a memorably silly image.

In the second half of the bill, Sharp proves herself a very personable presence, though it doesn’t feel as if she’s pushing herself particularly when it comes to the material, sharing personal anecdotes in a chatty, but not punchline-hungry way.

She often delivers with a slightly nervous laugh, which is actually something of a useful misdirection, lending a faux coyness to material that isn’t always as naive as she projects.

Sharp certainly has some eye-opening medical stories to share - literally when it came to what one medic wanted her to do in a virtual consultation. However her most substantial health issue doesn’t quite get the jokes it needs, and feels a bit too straight. It’s left to a friend’s – or rather  now ex-friend’s - colonoscopy to provide the most unexpected image.

As an English-Egyptian woman, she covers familiar ground about the preponderance of body hair. They’re solid lines, but feel a bit perfunctory, done because it’s expected of her.

A story of romantic rejection as a child conjures up some pleasingly amusing imagery, establishing a line of odd dating stories. But the punchlines are not really worthy of the build-ups, making this feel more like an engaging conversation than a hilarious and finely-honed comedy routine.  And a meandering story about LinkedIn is manipulated into a particular contrived premise which isn’t really worth it.

It’s an enjoyable enough set, but at a time when everyone’s a comedian, what makes it stand out?

Review date: 29 Nov 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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