Funny women. You are a joy to me. A loud reminder that to be a woman can combined intelligence, brashness and the manipulation of one's body into the grotesque or the bizarre, rather than into uncomfortable underwear or the pre-pubescent gymnast look.
You may have heard comedy duo Hannah Croft and Fiona Pearce on Radio 4, in last year's series The Croft & Pearce Show. And there was certainly no dismissing the very 'Radio 4' feel of this performance. I imagined many of the audience to be deeply involved in the dramas of Ambridge. In fact if I'd closed my eyes I could have been in my childhood kitchen. The whole show is essentially a mickey-take of the inner sanctums of the Home Counties, for those in the inner sanctums of the Home Counties.
In the beginning, I felt that I was watching a show very much written for the radio. The humour was word based, with weighted comedy silences and exaggerated accents. However, as the evening continued the sketches became much more physical, perhaps a sign of the actors warming up into their roles. One of the enjoyable things was that they were able to do so. It soon became apparent that the characters were all intertwined. The whole show has been created using interlinking stories and recurring characters. This element of progression makes a sketch show so much more entertaining, with the character development adding depth. Suicidal Berkshire housewives Jean and June made multiple appearances, alternately driven to the edge by the stresses of open garden week, missing the Seville orange season in Waitrose, and the utter shame of being found out to shop in Aldi. The breakdown of June's awful toothy son's relationship is played out over the evening, beginning with an excruciatingly unsexy weekend in Paris, and ending with the single life, playing video games with a fellow bachelor of densely objectifying views on female desire.
Good comedians tend to be incredibly talented in their immediate placement of an audience into their own imagination. This is particularly important in sketch shows, in which an actor has a very short amount of time to create a viable world with an immediate hook - the sketch is lost without it. Croft and Pearce excel at this. Working entirely without props, they manage to place the audience in, among many other locations, a Parisian apartment with Eiffel Tower view, a drowning sequence complete with hallucinations, and a disrupted sex workshop. The latter, in which a love and intimacy counsellor finds her workshop taken over by a dominating woman called Astrid who only booked onto the course in the belief it would be an orgy, is just one of the sketches involving those ill-fated words 'audience participation'. Perhaps it is because I was not singled out as a character called 'Fatty', or squashed between two overly-chatty Australians on a long haul flight, but I rather enjoyed it.
Sometimes I wonder if my love of funny women is based on a deep rooted desire of one-upmanship. I get a real kick out of women making men look silly, especially when said man is attempting to be sexy. Perhaps this is an issue I should explore with a qualified practitioner. Anyhow, Croft and Pearce's sketches are full of impressions of hilariously unalluring men, making all kinds of attempts to be manly, attractive, or to deal with feelings. That is not to say, of course, that the female characterisations are much more compelling. But the two women behind these awful characters, well, they're just wonderful. Funny women, I salute you.