Stand-up Sara Pascoe has long been a force on the British circuit, her singular brand of comedy fusing discussion of important topics with no shortage of silliness and filth. A potent combination, this has led to successful tours and TV appearances, and more recently a book – Animal – which focuses on feminism and the female body.
Her current tour, also titled Animal, isn’t a retread of that tome, though. Rather than a companion piece to it, the show instead took off in a completely different direction, which might lead some to wonder why they share a moniker. In fairness, it is a good title, so why not?
From very early on in this 90-minute set, Pascoe launched into her refreshingly honest style – unafraid to share stories which reflect very poorly on her, this wasn’t so much self-deprecation as bordering on self-destruction, or as she put it, making the audience dislike her so she could see if she could win us back. It’s a bold gambit, but her warmth, openness and willingness to undercut her own status all contributed to an endearing performance, peppered with finely honed gags and comic observations.
From teen tales to adult relationships, gender to self-confidence (or lack thereof), and politics to pornography, Pascoe was forthright and funny in equal measure, weaving exquisite jokes with plenty of facts and philosophising, not to mention oozing awkward charm and imparting knowledge.
Indeed, her ability to cover such a range of topics – usually in-depth, and with the kind of authority which belied her commitment to self-mockery – culminated in a learning experience too, as if the whole evening had been a cool if slightly shambolic lecture, though such a description really undersells Pascoe’s skill as a comedian; and also her ability to say the wrong thing at just the right time, to hilarious effect.
There are few comic voices, certainly in UK comedy, which are this distinctive, intelligent and essential – Pascoe is a must-see.