Holly Walsh: Never Had It

Holly Walsh makes it clear in the opening sentences of Never Had It that she certainly doesn’t have ‘it’. Taking the audience on a tour of what ‘it’ means - confirming that whilst Obama does have it, Prince Charles certainly doesn’t - Walsh confronts issues from strip clubs to train announcements to pre-Reformation monastic marginalia, laced with a hefty dose of feminism.

With a show like this, Walsh shouldn’t worry whether she has ‘it’ or not. She has a clever, warm Fringe show which should be packing people in. Far better than ‘it’.

Walsh is an extremely likable and engaging performer throughout the set, allowing for a genuine connection with the audience. In fact, despite the fact the set was generally tight, it was in the interactions with the audience that Walsh truly shone. Whether encouraging her crowd to rib latecomers, or talking about an individual’s own experience with the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, Walsh didn’t look to humiliate or scare her audience, rather to create an environment under which it becomes possible to ask questions of what ‘it’ is.

It seemed at points that Walsh was afraid of straying away from the safe comedy that made up much of her set. There are a couple of fairly standard lines on the subject of the popularity of online cat videos which felt as if they should belong in a routine from a few years ago. Similarly, the prudishness associated with sex and being British was not a particularly novel section of her set. It did, however, give rise to one of the finest moments of the hour, in which Walsh presented the British equivalent of the American ‘base system’. In spite of this, there are moments throughout which prove Walsh is not only capable of comedy with more of a sting but knows when to employ such lines. The equation of the Duke of Edinburgh award with the Hitler Youth is a moment of biting brilliance and it would have been lovely to have seen more of these cutting lines employed throughout the set.

The show is a slow burner, but it is in the final section of the show that the loose ends tie superbly together. Here, the references to pornography marginalia, under enthusiastic waiting staff, being wine-drunk and, of course, the complete lack of ‘it’ Walsh takes the audience through eavesdropping on a couple at Claridge’s to fabulous effect. It was a lovely end to what is a strong and intelligent show.

With a show like this, Walsh shouldn’t worry whether she has ‘it’ or not. She has a clever, warm Fringe show which should be packing people in. Far better than ‘it’. 

Reviews by Joanna Bowman

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Performances

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The Blurb

Some people have got 'it'. Holly most definitely does not. But who needs 'it' when you've got a Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and nearly two thousand Nectar points? As seen and heard on Mock the Week, Would I Lie To You, Just a Minute, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and The Unbelievable Truth. Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominee and Chortle Award winner. 'Gifted with snappy wit and crackling talent' (Guardian). 'Delightful moments of hilarity' (Chortle.co.uk).

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