‘Too Many Women’ comedy night review

June 5, 2014, Article by Richard in Reviews, Theatre & Comedy

It’s the age old debate (apparently): are women funny? It’s obviously an extremely important issue, and one that demands closer inspection. The ‘against’ side looks pretty much foolproof from our point of view. For example, LADS, ok, right – name me a genuinely funny wom–

Tina Fey? Sarah Silverman?

What? Yeah OK… but, they’re American! Name me a genuinely funny BRITISH comedi-

Caroline Aherne? Rebecca Front? Olivia Colman? Jessica Hynes? Julia Davis?

Yeah, yeah, but they’re more, like, comic actresses or whatever. Name me a genuinely funny British STAND-UP comedia-

Josie Long? Bridget Christie? Isy Suttie? Shappi Khorsandi?

Yeah well . . . you can prove anything with facts, can’t you?

As ridiculous as this ‘debate’ clearly is, back in March this year, comedian Jenny Collier was genuinely told there were ‘too many women’ on the bill of a comedy night she was to perform at, so she was dropped. In response, Jenny and the good people at Emerald Street responded with the inaugural ‘Too Many Women’ night at The Old Queen’s Head.

Compered by the superb Jen Brister, whose bafflement at the front row of friends who’d met up for the night on twitter was particularly funny, this was a brilliant night featuring four fantastic comedians (or female comediennes, as FHM described our headliner, just to make it clear…).

First on the bill was Rachel Parris, in the guise of glamorous alter-ego Felice. Parris has garnered some excellent reviews as part of the Jane Austen-themed improv gang, Austentatious, and she can clearly hold her own in solo mode. Felice, a botoxed American superstar with a monstrous ego, went down a treat. Parris expertly captured the mannerisms and tics of the faux-earnest yet arrogant star bellowing out absurdly bland declarations of love before undercutting them with some gloriously self-aggrandising lyrics. The refrain of ‘I’m amazing…’ was a particular highlight.  Parris’s improv skills meant she came into her own when making up lyrics to a couple of songs including ‘Cock Scarf’ (words suggested by the audience), before a climactic warbling topped her excellent set off.

Next up, after compere Brister had coined a brilliantly cutting term for the banker and private equity fund manager in the front row (the second word was ‘corner’ but the first definitely wasn’t ‘crunch’), was Jenny Collier, who really showed the clowns who dropped her what they were missing. This was a great set, with Collier’s misdirection and brilliant mangling of plurals, along with some choice tales of her mum’s muddled conversations, getting some big laughs.

We were annoyed to miss out on penultimate act Aisling Bea at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, so it was great to get a chance to see her last night, as she was another brilliant performer. Delivering her set at breakneck speed (including a brilliant analysis of why she actually speaks so fast), you hardly had time to catch your breath before the next big belly laugh. Amongst the breathless tales of her childhood and professional jockey mother (yep, really), there was some great improvised satirical stuff aimed at the Americans in the front row. In short, she’s ace.

Closing off proceedings was  Sara Pascoe with barnstorming headline set. You really get the impression she agonises over every word (in a good way), and the gags land brilliantly because of it. She’s a supremely confident comedian and had the audience in the palm of her hand as she explored her past relationships and terrifying adolescent obsession with members of Take That. Also, her suggested method of how to end the ‘No More Page 3’ debate may have come from a dream, but it’s a glorious and immediately visual idea and it went down a storm. You’ll have to go and see her to find out what it is…

All in all this was a fantastic showcase of some brilliant talent, and we can only hope those Emerald Street lot get another date in the diary soon…