As a recipient of the Gilded Balloon’s So You Think You’re Funny? Award Demi Lardner belongs to an elite group of comedy talent. Winning it can make a career. Lardner has enough talent to make it without such accolades, although it’s always good to find someone who clearly deserves them.
The structure of her show is wonderfully creative.
The structure of her show is wonderfully creative. Part set-piece, part stand-up, Lardner intersperses her show with dialogue involving telephone conversations with her Dad and a weirdly intrusive alarm clock. These segue into confident and original sections of excellent stand-up, each section feeding into the other so that the structure doesn’t seem forced.
Her jokes are the kind of startlingly smart and simple observations – on potential wordplay as well as human behaviour – that make you clap your hands and exclaim ‘why didn’t I think of that!’ However, she can also do the surreal, whimsical, antipodean hipster thing (in this case, ‘hipster’ is not an insult) that seems to be exerting an important influence on our comic sensibilities; the flight of fancy that lends her show its title is a nice example of this kind of comic offering.
Mixing the sharp and the dreamy is a fairly unique ability; most comics do either/or. Lardner has an ability with language that allows her to do both with similar skill, each aspect to her routine reinforcing the other. Her brain is wired in such a way that she can immediately recognise a phenomenon’s comic potential, and quickly structure it into either a joke or some kind of routine. I would give anything to read her notebooks. Of course, comedians have to have a brain wired this way; what marks Lardner out is the literariness of her material, the evidence of a special way with words. She describes herself on her website as being a writer as well as a comedian, and it shows.
Billed at an hour but only lasting forty minutes, Lardner did seem nervous and perhaps rushed through some of her material. But at only twenty years old and with stuff this good, this is easily forgiven. Birds with Human Lips signals an exciting talent; if Demi Lardner doesn’t make it, comedy will have lost something rather lovely. This means you should go and see her show.