Gráinne Maguire: Gráinne with a Fada

Gráinne Maguire’s stand-up hour, Gráinne with a Fada centres on the comic’s own identity. An Irish immigrant in London, she grapples with what her nationality means to her through the medium of comedy.

At times she is almost uncomfortable to watch but she owns this as a joke in itself and there's a boldness to that.

The show’s title places Maguire’s name at the heart of her set. As the audience enters the Gilded Balloon’s turret, The Ting Tings’s That's Not My Name plays, with various unfortunately incorrect ways of saying ‘Gráinne’ overdubbed: her endless struggle with non-Irish folk encapsulated. The title seems to make an attempt to provide some guidance on the name’s pronunciation, highlighting the fada (the acute accent in Irish Gaelic) on the “a”. However, to a Brit unfamiliar with this Irish name, the fada would most likely also be a mystery, and so Gráinne only adds to the confusion already caused by the disparity between spelling and pronunciation. As she thus further asserts the Irishness of her name, she refuses to lessen her identity despite her cultural disorientation in England. We are forced to learn to pronounce Gráinne correctly, and acknowledge and accept its foreignness.

Perhaps the key takeaway from this Irish immigrant comic, then, is acceptance of others, particularly pertinent in this post-Brexit world. In Gráinne’s routine she rejects the idea that she comes pedalling a message, but in a neat bit of paralepsis she puts one across anyway without losing her ditsy informality.

This is a particular skill of hers, and perhaps what defines her style of comedy. Her material is relatable, unexpected and current, all at the same time; she has gags about this summer’s Love Island on ITV2 and labels both Tony Blair and David Cameron ‘messy bitches’. It feels idiosyncratic and fresh, and demonstrates her ability to crack jokes in and on a range of tones and levels. She touches on the trials and tribulations of dating, family, feminism and current affairs handling them all with conversational warmth and a light touch. Her anecdotal and self-critical style of stand-up comedy is deftly interwoven with the political.

Her flustered character onstage pulls her off on frequent tangents but these always ends up leading smoothly onto the next thing, so the audience buys it. This balance of structure and spontaneity incorporates too her flamboyant and sometimes wild habits of gesture. At times she is almost uncomfortable to watch but she owns this as a joke in itself and there's a boldness to that. 

Reviews by Laura Pujos

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The Blurb

Joaquin Phoenix, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Osama Bin Laden – there's always been a buzz around tricky celebrity names. Can Gráinne jump on the trend before she's deported with the other EU immigrants? From one of the writers of 8 out of 10 Cats and as heard on Radio 4's Breaking the News and More Money than Sense. 'Brilliantly fusing the personal and political... a performer who knows how to tell a story' **** (Scotsman), 'An original comic voice... keen for humour to be politically engaged' (Fest).