Patti Harrison: My Huge Tits Huge Because They’re Infected Not Fake | Review of the American cult comic in London
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Patti Harrison: My Huge Tits Huge Because They’re Infected Not Fake

Review of the American cult comic in London

One of the many splendid things about Patti Harrison is how generous she is with her time in the UK. 

Even though she’s now a bona fide cult comedy star in the US, anchoring indie movies and beasting supporting roles in shows like Shrill and I Think You Should Leave, she regularly commits to big juicy runs of her live show in Soho and Edinburgh, a generous sharing of her huge, infected talents with British audiences.

This show is a bumper edition of the show she first performed last Fringe – advertised as 75 minutes but running closer to 90 by my watch – and Harrison uses her time in unusual ways. 

Make no mistake, she’s a challenging, unconventional comic, operating from behind a glass-hard veneer of irony that almost completely obscures the real person underneath. Some people are going to hate this show, and there was even a trio who eventually walked out of this performance, just before Harrison kicked it into high gear.

You see, for the first 45 minutes, Harrison is seeking to test your endurance. Her act during this section has a unique, unfamiliar rhythm, closer to a horror movie than a comedy show. For periods of five minutes or more she likes to hold an audience in suspense with insipid monologues about mental wellness and positive energy that string you out for longer than you thought possible before delivering a shocking body blow of a laugh; laughs that are almost terrifying, often yoked to a monstrous vocal spike or a deeply grotesque image.

Instead of letting you chuckle reliably at the end of every sentence, she prowls through a haunted house where everything is just subtly wrong, and then suddenly her face contorts and it’s like Pazuzu takes over to deliver a gag  about eating used tampons or getting sexually assaulted by a mouse.

She pulls it off with an unnervingly perfect control of voice, expression and tone, never breaking character for a millisecond.  If you’ve seen her sketches in I Think You Should Leave, you’ll be familiar with her ability to turn every line into a brain worm that eats away at your linguistic centres and sense of humour, and those worms are proliferating here – her bizarre vocal inflections are sometimes the only thing you have to hold onto in the first half.

But then, following this long, slow build-up, Harrison suddenly unleashes a firestorm of some of the most hair-raising comedic set pieces you’ve ever seen, wallowing in a toxic swamp of violence, birth, and huge infected fake breasts; a bloody reckoning of gender-based body horror that she mischievously describes as ‘a metaphor for being biracial’.

A ten-minute sequence based around a spec script she’s written for Emily In Paris shows that, if she wanted, she could easily have you in constant hysterics for the entire show, but fundamentally she’s a performer who uses discomfort and disorientation in its many forms to ramp up the intensity of the comedy.

If you can hang with her in that space, it’s uncompromising, hilarious, powerfully strange work.

• Patti Harrison: My Huge Tits Huge Because They’re Infected Not Fake is at Soho Theatre until June 13, then at the Pleasance in Edinburgh from July 31 to August 11

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Review date: 29 May 2024
Reviewed by: Tim Harding
Reviewed at: Soho Theatre

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