First impressions can be misleading. The mawkishly patronising, ‘hello darling!’ with which Catriona Knox greeted each one of us made me feel tense rather than amused. While her first character, Nico the Glasto 1979 performer, is intentionally irritating, I found that choice irritating. Nico convinced me that I just wasn’t going to click with Catriona Knox’s humour. How wrong she was.
Knox’s impersonation of Andy Murray’s mother Judy changed everything. Knox’s Judy is cross with Sue Barker, she’s cross with Andy’s girlfriend Kim, and she’s particularly cross with Kim’s hair, but what enrages her most of all is the possibility that Andy might never triumph in a grand slam. Impersonating a mum so aggressively ambitious for her son that even her hairstyle is calculated to maximise his chance of winning, Knox showed her brilliance. She even managed a physical likeness.
Another strong ad hominem attack came in Knox’s sharply observed imitation of Jeremy Hunt’s wife, whose every other word was ‘absolutely’. The best parts of the show, however, saw Knox depart further from reality. In what could loosely be called a parody of young children’s behaviour, the in-character Knox recounts the traumas of Nap Time, Gym and playground social play. The catch? The entire monologue is in the weary tone and language of a frustrated middle-aged woman. Had all Knox’s characters been as original and delightful as this, I would have given her four stars.
A few of the more obscure characters lost the audience a bit. The sight of Knox, playing an overexcited European newly wed, shimmying seductively against an uncomfortable audience participator didn’t raise laughter. It did, however, impress me by its sheer daring. Knox maintained these fearlessly raised stakes - her next character invited an audience member to show his boxers. There was something strangely heroic about such confidence.
At the close of the show, Knox returned to the biblical gag with which she began. This time, however, the daring saw things go a bit awry. When Knox asked one audience member his opinion of ‘the gays’, the pause that ensued was dizzyingly awkward. I’m all for risks in stand up, but not if they risk making the audience feel like panicking rather than laughing. Perhaps this was just bad luck. At her best, Knox’s superb wit filled me with admiration.