God help you if one day Tiffany Stevenson decides to mock you. Her voice, whether it’s making Jack Daniels disappear the less acceptable aspects of the Deep South, it’s imitating Australian hipsters, or it’s mocking Jennifer Lopez’s ass-poking video antics, she absolutely nails the intonation, timing and tone.
She appears onstage in a shocking pink onesy-cum-cocktail-dress-cum-sleeping-bag, along with alarmingly bright Adidas trainers with what appear to be wings attached. It’s only five past four, but she confesses to already being on the wine spritzers, so those who’ve not come across her before might be forgiven for getting slightly panicky and checking their nearest exit at this point.
But the visually shocking persona we have before us turns out to be a simple subversion – her narrative is almost alarmingly normal, calm and reasonable. She’s talking to you calmly, conversationally. You looked up and expected zany, but you got zen.
The central topic Stevenson is addressing and subverting is the world of advertising and image. We are probably all well aware of how the often overwhelmingly male attitudes and unsubtle sexism tokenise women, but as Tiffany asks in the show’s advertising: What makes a person? Ideas, labels, sexuality or even slogan t-shirts?
She riffs for a fast-flowing hour on these themes, and even though the material is diverse and her targets varied, her confidence, vocal mimicry and deft ability to connect with the whole of the room bring a cohesion and neatness to the show. She does range far and wide in her stories – and some perhaps don’t always help her nail her points completely – but her personality and ability to fly neatly to an associated idea mean that even where a story’s impact is a little diffuse, there’s always a quick snap back to the central theme.
The single, slight criticism I have of this show is that Tiffany hits so many different targets that the impact is diffused. The show lacks a laser-like focus, which means that stand-out one liners and stories are less easy to recall to the front of the mind.
But of course, I have to mention the fact that I laughed – often – in this comedy performance. And towards the end, there’s a mind-boggling metaphor for women’s menstrual cycles, where the notion of “building a vagina house” makes more than a few male audience members uncomfortable. But at the same time, they’re laughing, albeit in a slightly horrified and manic way.
Everyone can identify with her complaint about people wearing Ramones t-shirts who have no clue how to respond to having well-known lyrics quoted at them, but this is expanded further by Tiffany as she broadens this phenomenon to question how shallow and trite we are to not just buy into this kind of labelling, but also at the same time how easily we, despite ourselves, still fall for the tendency to categorise and label people.
Tiffany Stevenson is acerbic, edgy, witty, slick and sharply observant, and this show is definitely worthy of your time in Edinburgh. And the rooftop ‘loft bar’ upstairs at the venue is also one of the hippest places to hobnob with the many comedians at the Stand venues.
> Click here to book this show
Aug 10-16, 18-29 at 4:05pm
Stand 5& 6, The Place, 34-38 York Place, EH1 3HU