Michelle Collins: The Big Natural Tour | Gig review from the Soho Theatre, London
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Michelle Collins: The Big Natural Tour

Gig review from the Soho Theatre, London

It’s the least surprising thing livewire American comic Michelle Collins says when, halfway through her chaotically freewheeling set, she mentions that she has ADHD. It’s only an aside, but that’s all it needs to be, given her whole, intense performance is defined by a restless mind.

The energy may be shambolic, but it’s giddily intoxicating as she offers a camp, gossipy, indiscrete, opinionated, piss-taking download of anything that’s occurred to her. ‘I saw this today!’ she enthuses, amid musings about the heat, TK Maxx or a change to Pret’s tuna recipe, all of which spontaneously cross her mind.

A PowerPoint serves primarily as an aide memoire to try to keep her vaguely on track, with the bland subject headings that pop up. She also uses the screen to share memes, from cute cat pictures to Shrek porn to the reality show Can Fat Teens Hunt?, which had her gripped.

There is something of a TikTok doomscroll feel to her show as it ricochets from one random topic to the next, with little direction but huge enthusiasm. ‘Too much?!’ she occasionally questions, a concept alien to her heightened emotional vocabulary. Everything is amplified, and her brio sweeps all in its wake. Meanwhile, her no-filter outlook has her oversharing details of a bacterial infection and a still from her endoscopy.

The comedian – who has just been dropped as co-host of The View (America’s equivalent to Loose Women) – is also a voracious consumer of cheap pop culture, and it almost doesn’t matter what she talks about since it’s her very being that so effortlessly entertains. 

That said, there are occasions when Collins’ sheer force of personality doesn’t cover the triviality of the material. Footage of a reality show about fat pets outstays its laughs –probably because we have to watch the clips and not Collins in her full pomp. And a chunk about ‘what I miss about America’ now she lives in Amsterdam is almost engineered to fail. 

Entirely based around shopping, she either talks about the minutiae of brands we don’t really know about here, or gets supportively heckled that yes, in fact, we do have this or that store in London, so the longing is misplaced.

She also lost me a bit with some of the videos of her peculiar mother on various forms of transport, but it seems the older woman might be known to the comedian’s social media followers, and many fans in the room savoured the catch-up.  

Some of this, and a few bits of other material, were also in Collins’s British stand-up debut five years ago, indicating a relatively slow turnaround for some material.

But otherwise, her ever-active mind has her wondering what happened to a car she long ago sold, compiling a list of people with peculiar names she’s encountered on the dating apps.

A couple of ‘Les Misherables’ parody songs show off her pipes – and it comes as little surprise that her singing is as bold and brash as her stand-up. The rewriting of tracks to be about those apps or a pregnancy scare, but she’s been more than entertaining enough to earn our indulgence.

• Michelle Collins: The Big Natural Tour is at Soho Theatre at 7.30pm until Saturday.

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Review date: 26 Jun 2024
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Soho Theatre

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