Edinburgh Preview: Laura Lexx & Sara Barron

A double bill of excellent comedians: both tackled arguably taboo subjects, both were extremely funny.

A double bill of excellent comedians: both tackled arguably taboo subjects, both were extremely funny.

Laura Lexx’s set began with some highly amusing observations about family holidays, camping and millennials’ experiences vis-à-vis their parents’ at the same life-stage. All good. We could all settle back with a reasonable idea of what to expect. But then, a sharp and surprising shift and we’re into topics not necessarily associated with comedy. However, if anyone can make an audience crack up about, well, cracking-up, Laura Lexx seems able to. For what followed was an account of her trying: trying to overcome depression and trying for a baby. Emotionally raw, it may have been – and, despite Laura’s exuberance and warmth, her eyes at times seemed to percolate with anguish at the re-telling of it all – but that is not to suggest that this was some worthy let’s-talk-about-feelings homily. No, this was laugh-hard material, which included well-aimed caustic swipes at pseudo-scientific ideas, urban myths, and the well-meaning or not so well-meaning things people say to someone struggling with mental health and / or conception. One spoiler alert: gluten might not be responsible for absolutely all that ails us.

Should we laugh quite so much at such serious issues? The audience occasionally seemed slightly abashed at doing so. But, yes, we should: why, Laura, at various points, held up signs to confirm it should be so. And what better than laughter for crashing through taboos and stigma? Perfectly normal people (be nice to meet one, one day) may fall apart. This is one way of getting over it.

After the break, Sara Barron kicked off her set by advising the audience about her accent, that she was not Canadian but the ‘bad one’. Then with brilliant delivery and pacing she laid out telling observations of the realities of marriage, motherhood and child-rearing, sex and masturbation. More taboo busting then. There was much appreciation for the ridiculing of hash-tag irritating slogans and squirming at certain ‘cringe’ words. It was all gloriously rude and biting but above all very smart; and hugely enjoyed by the audience.

And then a slight swerve. When she was 13, Sara revealed, she wrote a play, Rosewood Beach which has a lead protagonist, Jenny Wilkinson. Most of the play is in effect porn, but porn written by someone with rather shaky spelling and with very scant actual knowledge about sex (apart from it involving the music tapes of a certain balladeer, the consumption of fizz and peeing). Parts of the play had a run through with Jenny Wilkinson played – what luck – by a Jennifer / Jenny from the front row of the audience. For all the misconceptions of the young author – and they are hilarious - the play’s ending reveals a certain perspicacity beyond her years. Penetrating insight, one might say… A final thought: #howluckywasItoseethis.

Look out for both women at Edinburgh Fringe this year - if you get a chance to see Laura Lexx or Sara Barron, do it.

Reviews by Jonna Brett

New Venture Theatre

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Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts

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Komedia Brighton

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The Blurb

Laura Lexx: TryingComic’s Comic MC Award Winner 2017Chortle Best Compere Nominee 2016, 2017, 2018‘It’s difficult to see what will stop her success’ The Skinny

Sara Barron: For Worse‘The reigning queen of New York’s live storytelling scene’ Jon Ronson‘Barron is, dare we say it, as funny as David Sedaris. When you aren’t squirming, you’re laughing out loud’ Los Angeles Times

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