Holly Burn: I Am Special

It’s a struggle to review Holly Burn. It’s a struggle to articulate what just happened, who she is, what she does, whether it’s funny, or whether there’s a point to it at all.

It’s fascinating to watch but you’re also compelled to run away.

Burn shrieks at the audience immediately upon their arrival. “HAVE YOU HAD YOUR DINNER?”, she yells at an affronted front-row, while strutting around in a fluorescent pink jumpsuit and excess gold eye-shadow. She then proceeds to insult the Underbelly staff and stretch across audience members before commencing a disjointed analysis of 80s Newcastle.

While she is a performer renowned for her character comedy, Holly Burn’s hour of madness reflects on how she was, as most children are, termed ‘special’ aged four. She then imagines how special her life should’ve turned out to be, ignoring the reality of actual mundane adulthood. We unwittingly enter her delusional dreamworld, characterised wholly by shrill, creepy weirdness. It ranges from her singing with Barbra Streisand at Carnegie Hall to eating nectarines naked in Italy. It’s fascinating to watch but you’re also compelled to run away.

The moment when she decides to perform her show in Japanese Kabuki style – that is, extremely slowly, is a real highlight… or lowlight, depending on whether you enjoy Japanese Kabuki or indeed, a British woman performing bad oral sex on a microphone in slow-mo.

It all sounds quite hysterical written down, but in plain sight, it was more uncomfortable than it was entertaining. A few questions that ran through my head throughout were as follows: “Is she drunk? Is she high? Is she real? Can I please leave?!” You’re left stunned by the insanity, rather than the hilarity, of it all.

I wouldn’t say I recommend this show, but if you want to see an hour of silly nothingness you’ll never forget, go to see Holly Burn. It’s an experience but not necessarily a good one.

Reviews by Sarah Gough

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The Blurb

Holly’s special, she knows it… but when will everyone else catch on?! The loud voice of Generation Y wants it all, without doing anything to get it. ‘A proper mad comedian’ (Stewart Lee's Fringe Recommendation 2015). A gloriously silly woman with a warped mind and a cheerful disregard for shame.’ **** (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Hilarious... Burn is an irresistible performer …. her writing is strong too, packed with deliciously surreal details…’ (Independent). James Acaster's Top Comedy Picks 2015. ‘One of my favourite acts to watch ever’ (Guardian). ‘Turns stand-up on its head. **** (ToDoList.org.uk).