In her white shirt, grey knee length skirt and black brogues, Sara Pascoe looks like a schoolgirl. This is intentional - as well as her outfit, much of her set evokes the schoolgirl she once was. Sara sums up Sara Pascoe: The Musical! as ‘Adolescence and Women In the Media’. Both titles are accurate - neither conveys how great her show is.
Pascoe remarks that she hasn’t had a particularly unusual life. This is true. Lots of people could tell similar stories about their vegetarianism, unpopularity at school, teenage crushes, first experience of drugs, and so on. However, the trick is in the telling. Pascoe has a wonderfully slow, frank way of sharing anecdotes. With her wide-eyed earnestness, sentences like, ‘you will not have heard of him because he is not successful’ become very funny. Her repeated use of the phrase, ‘and also…’ is also strangely effective at peaking our interest. And also, while it’s often annoying when people’s sentences go up at the end, when Pascoe does it, it’s delightful. A lot of her set feels like enthusiastic schoolgirl gossip. Of course, Pascoe is much, much sharper and wittier than a schoolgirl. This is what makes her set so amusing.
The girlish Pascoe not only has the enthusiasm of an unselfconscious schoolgirl, she also has the boldness. Discussing the common fear of female comedians doing jokes about periods, she remarks, ‘I can say the word, ‘penis’. But if I say, ‘period’, it’s not ok.’ She then launches into some period-related anecdotes which are definitely better than ok. Looking around, it was clear that the audience was amused rather than afraid.
Perhaps as a result of her girlishness, Pascoe’s anecdotes often feel touchingly honest. However, like all the best gossip, the embellishments are as important as the truth. Departures from reality are neatly woven in to great effect and the songs - some of which are like hilariously sinister asides - also keep the pace nicely varied.
I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this show; though Pascoe remarks on its lack of ‘joke jokes’, there are even a couple of great one-liners. Not all of her material is particularly original - vexed rants about the Haagen Datz advertising campaign and about women’s magazines feel very familiar. Thanks to her sparkiness, however, this doesn’t really matter. Sara Pascoe’s days of unpopularity are firmly over.