It's a Wednesday night in Brighton and Komedia is packed. Returning to the very stage she started out on ten years ago, Angela Barnes does exactly what she does best and gets the crowd roaring from the get-go. As ever, she's relatable, funny, with just the right amount of rude.
An expert in calling out hypocrisy and double standards in the funniest ways.
Angela Barnes has become a regular on TV and radio comedy news panel shows, but the impact of immersing herself in the bleak world of current affairs, the scrutiny of the limelight and some challenging personal circumstances have caused her to take stock, check in and reflect. When lots of bad things happen at once, it can be hard to find the positives. Rose Tinted is her effort to remind us (and herself) to do just that.
Rose Tinted begins by tackling the now; Brexit, Trump, Novichok, and an unhappy Britain. She notes how difficult it is to be hopeful when there’s possibly no going back, but still finds the funny lurking in dark corners. ‘Can you stay at a garden party after you’ve shat in the punch?’ Probably not.
Barnes notes that even the most politically engaged have become exhausted and apathetic about Brexit. She expresses anger at those in power for not doing enough, and for ignoring the serious issues; What are we going to do about Lidl? She attacks government propaganda fuelled by misplaced nostalgia; it’s all too easy to think back to ‘the good old days’ when you ignore all the bad bits. She also challenges gender expectations and speaks passionately about the #metoo movement, sharing a personal experience and the conflicts it brought. Barnes is an expert in calling out hypocrisy and double standards in the funniest ways.
It’s not all politics though. The premise of the tour is a personal one, and Rose Tinted takes a reflective twist as Barnes draws us in to times she’s faced serious adversity, and focusses on the things that pulled her through. Barnes shares the relatable experience of trying to manage anxiety, dealing with unhelpful advice from well-meaning people, and hilarious moments from her unexpected journey getting into fitness, to improve her physical and mental health.
She makes us all fall in love with a gutsy psychiatric nurse called Babs, who taught her to always look on the bright side of life, even when every task feels insurmountable. “Be more Babs," she says. And always wear clean knickers.
Huge credit is also well deserved for the support act, Phil Jerrod, who neatly warmed up the audience with a steady set of relatable experiences, astute observations and sharp one-liners. Pared back, unassuming and witty, Jerrod energetically delivered relatable and spot-on observational comedy about the pains (and gains) of falling out of social norms, living in a tiny flat and wondering why it's deemed okay to call someone a ‘pedo’ while it’s not ok to diss their cat. As well as having the best analogy for deciding who to vote for in the next election: “What's your favourite lump in this pool of sick?’ he took us through some of the poignant, harrowing and hilariously recounted moments from discovering a cancerous growth on his kidney.
Barnes and Jerrod were the perfect complement to each other, both shedding light on otherwise dark topics in a way that made the audience feel lifted and resilient to whatever the next news headline might bring. Rose Tinted puts a magnifying glass onto all of the shit, and a better view at the roses that grow just beyond. It’s about facing your fears and not letting things hold you back; Life’s too short, so put on your rose tinted specs and go for it.