As a perk (as opposed to the title, this pun is not intended) of being a steward for the Arts Centre, I am occasionally gifted with free tickets to see the less popular shows. This time around two other stewarding friends and I were given a tickets for us and a friend each to see Sue Perkins' stand up comedy show. Six of us went, open-minded and happily brandishing our complimentary tickets, to see her "Spectacle Wearer of the Year" performance on Saturday night.
It should have clicked that it was a less popular show for a reason, but it didn't. I thought it was going to be wonderful. I was woefully disappointed. No. That's an understatement. I came away desperately in need of a laugh, and feeling guilty for having invited other people to see it with me!
I'm not one of those people who goes to see a show with a "You must thrill me! I shall sit here with a stoic expression on my face until you stun me with your brilliance!" mindset. Comedy in particular can be extremely hard to pull off well — even the most professional comedians/comic actors in the world falter when faced with a blank, silent audience. They're only human and they're putting themselves in a very vulnerable, challenging position. As a performer myself, I always try to support them by (at the very least) chuckles out loud at even the weaker jokes, and isn't afraid to belly laugh when something really is amusing.
I tried with Sue, I really did. I desperately wanted to find her funny, I just… couldn't! I managed one, maybe two half-hearted, very forced sniggers before I gave up and started praying for it to end. There were a few in the small audience who did laugh out loud and seem to enjoy the show, thank goodness, so I didn't feel too bad about my lack of laughter and the fact I had begun to vaguely hate her. While others chortled, my friends and I sat in incredulous silence as she regailed us with tales of her demented, obese, vindictive 2 year old niece and of her opinion of the art that hangs in NHS waiting rooms. She was self-deprecating in a horribly painful, cringe-inducing way. Her final punchline didn't even invoke a smile or even a groan — it was without doubt the lowest point of the show, being the least funny (yet most built up) joke she told the whole night.
What I'd seen of her previously on TV I really liked. I just think she works better as part of a comedy duo doing sketches, or reacting to current events with witty remarks. Long stories are not her forte. I think she's probably one of those people who'd be nice to have as a friend, her stories just didn't quite work on stage; her humour seemed forced and as if she was trying far too hard. Maybe in a more intimate setting she'd be bearable!
Good luck to you Sue, but next time stick to what you're good at!