Kate Berlant: Communikate

A master of audience coersion, Kate Berlant mines her best material from audience response rather than her own resources. There are times when it seems as though she is resting on stock replies to an audience member denying she is actually psychic, but it is equally evident that Berlant is a hugely talented improviser who spins funny and engaging material from almost any audience response. Berlant is from that breed of professional American improv comedian, regularly on the podcast circuit and seemingly unflappable in the face of the daunting scale of the fringe.

A show that is personalised but never too personal.

Communikate is a show thin on meaning, intentionally so, but not lacking in structure. Discreetly taking notes on audience members conversations as they enter the room, she uses them throughout her show to claim "psychic ability", mostly by pointing at people and guessing names of the people they know. This obviously doesn't work very often, but on the night of this specific performance it led to a perfect conclusion where she finally guessed a correct name just minutes from the end of the show. One can't ask for an improv-based structure to work this perfectly every night but it shows that, given the right audience, Communikate can be a masterfully arranged show. This structure is the perfect combination as it shows dedication and attention given to preparing material but with enough room to make each show feel unique and not hammer home a message to the audience.

Almost none of the anecdotal material present in many other comics shows is here and instead Kate Berlant keeps her audience at a uniquely American distance, allowing occasional moments of sincerity but mostly hiding behind a layer of irony. This works well for the intimidatingly sardonic Berlant as it gives her an impenetrable wall of sarcasm to hide behind as she tows the line between endearing herself to the audience and skewering them. We are never fully told whether or not Berlant is on our side as she despairs every time she makes an incorrect psychic prediction, but she is thoroughly entertaining nonetheless. This adds to a show that is personalised but never too personal. Kate Berlant is not offering her emotions up for the audiences approval but is instead simply making them laugh, which she does very thoroughly throughout this hour of stand-up and psychic prediction.

Reviews by Charlie Ralph

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Kate Berlant: Communikate

★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

With her freewheeling and surreal style, Kate's exhilarating live performances have placed her at the forefront of the alternative comedy scene. Now the avant-garde comedian Kate Berlant comes to Edinburgh with her debut Fringe hour. Hailed by the New York Times as a 'magnetic improvisational comic', Berlant will employ her surrealist, stream-of-consciousness monologues that continue to push the boundaries of conventional performance. Also, she's psychic! Or is she? 'Top three comics to watch' (Time Out New York). As seen on Netflix Presents: The Characters, and Channel 4's Search Party.