Liz Carr and Jane Bostock: Unnatural Comedy Selection
Laughing Horse @ Linsay’s
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Until 25 August
Star rating: 4/5
Equal opportunities rarely extend into the macho world of stand-up, so it was refreshing to see two female comics on the same bill, writes Mark Drinkwater.
Carr works well with partners, although this double-act is her first outing with a “non-disabled” (I’m still not sure about this term) partner, Jane Bostock.
The show starts with Carr and Bostock casually bantering with each other, followed by Bostock and Carr’s stand-up sets. Each day, the “missing link” is provided by a different comedian performing in between the two sets.
For me, the most interesting aspect of Bostock’s routine is her portrayal of the difficulties in dealing with the bizarre behaviour of a member of her family who has schizophrenia.
This, of course, raises ethical issues about discussing other people’s disabilities. But Bostock is aware enough to realise that audiences don’t quite know how to react to this uncomfortable material, and so she’s careful not to delve too deeply into this “comedy gold”, as she refers to it after the show.
As one might expect, Carr’s set draws heavily on her personal experiences of being a disabled person. Her dark material will have social workers wincing, particularly her account of dating a social worker, explaining: “it wasn’t the first time I’d been shafted by social services”.
I first met Carr when I was a community work student attending a hilarious talk she gave on empowering disabled people at Westminster University. Since then, Carr has carved quite a career from comedy and was deservedly a finalist in the Hackney Empire’s comedy newcomer category.
There is an added dimension to sharing a stage with a non-disabled comedian, as the power dynamics between Bostock and Carr change subtly during the show, confounding expectations about who’s the more dominant performer – although this aspect of the show is perhaps a little understated.
Fresher than most of the shows at Edinburgh, free performances like this prove there’s no need to shell out vast sums of money to see quality shows at the Fringe.
Mark Drinkwater is a community worker in Southwark, south London