Comic and self-confessed ‘try-too-hard’ Gráinne Maguire visits Edinburgh this year with her latest show Where Are All the Fun Places and Are Lots of People There Having Better Fun? You would be forgiven for thinking the title is a little wordy but it perfectly embodies not only the tone of the show, but Maguire herself, dealing out aspiration and desperation in perfect measure.Maguire’s nervous energy is hardly contained by the small stage as she impulsively bounds about, freewheeling about weird crushes, new Labour and her problems with Kate Middleton . Her set feels like a runaway train which could go hurtling off the tracks at any moment but Maguire never lets the material become tangential or chaotic; there is always a point to be made and sometimes these points are surprisingly poignant. These moments of poignancy combined with Maguire’s almost constant self-deprecation and unabashed quirkiness make for a delightfully endearing show which may not have you rolling in the aisles but will certainly keep you well amused.
The material is inoffensive despite the odd violent outburst borne of Maguire’s inability to control her excitement, a trait which makes her bizarrely respectable. There is something child-like about her but it is important to mention that she is not childish but instead possesses the audacity and undefeated outlook on the world that can often only be found in children (or the outrageously whimsical). Maguire is a storyteller . Despite being very well informed politically, she admits that she is not concerned with the audience’s political bent, she makes few grandiose or controversial statements and her demeanour suggests a belief that the audience will always be cooler than she is. Unlike some contemporary comedians, she is not out there to rattle cages.
Her comedy centres on palpable human anxieties which anchor the show and give it heart.However, a few jokes miss the mark and the show sometimes suffers from Maguire’s lack of self-assuredness. At points there is a distinct absence of commitment to punch-lines which makes well-established jokes slowly deflate instead of going out with a bang. Some gags feel over-extended or simple, lacking the complexity of comedy which is so satisfying in stand-up, especially that which relies so heavily on storytelling. Nevertheless, Maguire creates a comfortable atmosphere and develops a successful (if unbalanced) relationship with her audience and provides some amusing vignettes which may not be revolutionary but are a safe bet if you’re looking for an amusing and satisfying little show at this year’s Fringe.