Fellacio, faecal ‘docking’ and physical abuse. A bold choice for anyone, and sweet-faced Stephanie Laing is not the candidate to pull it off. A thirty-something riddled with self-exclaimed public anxiety, she clumsily skips from subject to subject with little structure.
Moments of confident comedy are compromised by a lack of control exerted over her space for the majority of the show.
There is no question that Stephanie Laing has balls in hunting comic material with vicious self-scrutiny. Nonetheless, there is a clear distinction between her writing and her performance. It is as though she is standing onstage not to entertain, but instead to rid herself of personal demons with the odd stab of humour thrown in. This isn’t to say there aren’t laughs to be had; Laing has a uniquely quirky persona which is charmingly awkward, but when twinned with a lengthy ramble about an abusive relationship there is only a certain amount of laugher one can summon.
Laing’s main problem, though, does not lie in any of this. It is the inability to control an audience; albeit an unfortunately difficult one on this particular occasion. It is uncomfortable to watch her stage presence diminishing with the frequent and unwelcome yelling of certain spectators, but she withers under the pressure. She falls short of the quick-tongued expectations held for her job description; moments of confident comedy are compromised by a lack of control exerted over her space for the majority of the show.
From anecdotes about acid trips to badly delivered and tired quips propositioning her louder members of the audience, she leaves a small window for laughter. It’s a shame that she flits from idea to idea with little development, as with a lot of polishing she has the capacity to be very funny in her clumsy manner. By neglecting her authority as performer, one can only hope she will shape a more confident show and understand the significance of comedic dominance.