One of the Gals is completely packed. So packed, in fact, that staff at The Street Bar have to bring down several more stools for the extra guests. The vibe is electric and reminds me of the atmosphere of live shows pre-pandemic. It’s clear that Laura McMahon has a lot of fans. Regrettably, after seeing her solo Edinburgh debut, I can’t say I’m one of them.
As a performer, she's a natural.
Her press release filled me with a lot of hope – there were many reputable comedy credits to her name. However, there was also another, slightly abrasive, section: “If you hate Laura McMahon, women in general, or comedy then this isn’t the show for you.” I’ll admit I didn’t like the show, not for any of these reasons, but because, for the most part, I didn’t find it funny.
It seems from the very start that Laura McMahon doesn’t want to take responsibility for anything. The show begins on a bold note. She states that comedy shows normally start with a support act, explaining that it’s usually an unfunny man who goes on for too long. Unfortunately, this was the type of humour that ran for around half of the show. The ‘men are trash’ narrative became alienating, one-note, and got tiring very quickly. Even Laura herself admitted that at times the show was like a lecture about how things in life have been ruined for women. Except it didn’t. At least with some lectures, they are engaging and thought provoking. The material in One of the Gals ran like an agenda of all the reasons Laura McMahon was right, and everyone else (men especially) were wrong.
It was clear in McMahon’s set that there was scope for improvement with joke structure. Around the 40-minute mark, the material turned into a bizarre mess of personal anecdotes. These were made a tad grating by being propped up by “and I was like…and he was like…and I was like…” to bring us to the conclusion (I counted 8 “like”s in one story). With a little work on structure and delivery, this section has the potential to be a strong final act of the set. For right now, I felt like I was on the outside of her in-jokes.
Although this final section needs some work, it gave McMahon’s personality a chance to shine through. As a performer, she’s a natural. Looking round at the crowd, they were hooked. It’s rare for a comedian to have that instant connection with their audience and this was a bond that only grew with time. The room was consistently in awe of her confidence on stage.
After a tough 18 months for the comedy industry, Laura McMahon definitely retains her charisma. However, underneath the persona is a performer with a lot of work to do.