“This is edgy and very funny stuff, delivered with self-deprecating wit that invites much laughter”
There is no shortage of stand-up comedy at the Fringe these days, which is rather taking over from theatre. This production (and I think that’s the right word for it) comes somewhere between the two. Kylie Vincent takes the stage as a feisty in-your-face young comedian, opening with some funny if fairly conventional observation about being an American in Edinburgh.
But we quickly realise there’s going to be more to this act than meets the eye. The traditional relationship trope of performer and audience is exploded by her analysis of a heckle she received at a gig in New York – to which we listen on audiotape – before this leads her off into a revealing and confessional exploration of her self-image and personal life. The usual idea of a comic making wry observations about the world we all share is abandoned as we are drawn into the sometimes dysfunctional and abusive world of her “white trash” family upbringing. This is edgy and very funny stuff, delivered with self-deprecating wit that invites much laughter – but I noticed there were several highly introspective episodes when there was scarcely a giggle for some minutes as the audience were raptly absorbed in listening to stories that were a little too painful for amusement. Jerry Sadowitz this ain’t – and I mean that as a compliment.
The eponymous “Bird” is Kylie’s name for herself. She sees herself and others as metaphorical animals, with other friends and family referred to by names such as “the deer” or “the gazelle”. Tellingly, all of the males in her life are monkeys or apes, with her father being “the gorilla”. Although a fine emotional rollercoaster of a show, I felt that overall it fell a little too far down between the two stools of dramatic monologue and stand-up comedy to be an out-and-out success in its current form. But Kylie Vincent is someone to watch: this combination of misery memoir and wryly observational humour felt like a work in progress that has much potential and I suspect we’ll be hearing more from Ms Vincent in years to come.
So come for the laughs, stay for the heartbreak, and leave thinking a little more about the ups and downs of your own family life. Get your coats on and go see this emerging new genre of tragicomedy.