Jena Friedman is scared shitless and wants to feel less alone.
We have to laugh, otherwise we'd cry.
In her hour-long race through the state of US politics and the wider world, Friedman delivers the most intelligent comedy I have ever seen. In her rapid set, she goes where few other comics dare. There will be walkouts, but that means she is doing her job right.
The men in the room felt justifiably uncomfortable, but they’re not her target audience and she wants them to squirm with guilt. She’s brilliant because she talks to women about what we rarely articulate, about how we’re often scared of men because they kill women.
Friedman speeds through an eclectic and tightly packed set, barely pausing for air. Her monotonous, sarcastic voice surveys the audience, taking no prisoners in a sinister and highly calculated performance. Neither the left nor the right were safe from her poisonous political jabs. She is brutal, rude and uncompromising and it is genius.
Dave recently published their best jokes of Fringe, but they obviously hadn’t been to Friedman’s show. Each line of her set could be extracted, analysed and used in isolation on repeat, such is her witty intelligence. Indeed, most of her jokes outshine every one of Dave’s male-heavy list of top picks.
What is more, Friedman’s honesty about her explicitly political agenda is refreshing. She hates Republicans and Donald Trump, that much is clear, but her comedy is a social analysis, not a lecture. Friedman dissects the injustices sweeping America so that by the time the show is over, we can see that Trump is a malignant tumour on America’s body politic, not a single problem in himself, but a symptom of something worse.
The show is heavy with references to True Crime, which Friedman addresses as the cultural phenomena it is. American men are good at killing women, she remarks, and whilst US produce in other areas, like cars, aren’t being exported to such success, True Crime (specifically, dead women) is bringing in a lot of money for Netflix.
Somehow and perhaps in poor taste, Friedman makes female mortality funny. However, when America is the tenth most dangerous place in the world to be a woman, humour like Friedman’s is urgent. In the end, all we can do is laugh with her because otherwise, we would have to cry.
Miscarriage of Justice is a heavy show, and not just in terms of its blood flow. Friedman is at one moment flippant and at another tragic. She knows she’s not to everyone’s taste and that she doesn’t speak for all women, but she spoke for me and for the other women in that room who are bored with comedy that sugar coats reality and separates the personal from the political. Friedman shows us that the personal is always political and, that in 2019, we have to laugh at the state of the world before we slip into a Margaret Atwood dystopia.