“I wanna be woke, but I’m tired.” Sophie Duker presents a realistic, relatable and funny account of what it’s like to be a black British woman in 2019 in Venus, her first show at the Fringe. Drawing heavily on visual props and videos, her set spends a lot of time discussing white men, black stereotypes and her many, many aunties.
A realistic, relatable and funny account of what it’s like to be a black British woman in 2019
For those of us who don’t spend our lives on Twitter or other social media sites, Venus serves as a hilarious yet educational hour about problematic things that white people do – like going on holiday and taking pictures with anonymous black children and using them on Tinder. Duker shows screenshots of various Tinder profiles at this point, which helps to really understand the extent of the issue and how ridiculous it really is. It isn’t the job of a black comedian to educate the white audiences of the Fringe but this is a welcome by-product from a comedy show.
The different storylines tie up well in the end but throughout the show they seem a bit disjointed and jumpy. Duker switches from personal anecdotes to historical titbits to discussing her own performativity of black stereotypes, from going to a “twerkshop” last year to holding her anger in so she doesn’t seem like an angry black woman. Her struggles as a queer black woman (a “triple threat”) are brought to the fore in Venus, from not having any role models who looked like her to going to Oxford University and feeling out of place. Some jokes are a bit on-the-nose, but the audience laps it up and the room is full of laughter.
A lot of the humour references British popular culture including current affairs, children’s TV shows and rom-coms, all which have to be explained to Americans and other non-Brits in the audience – something which can only be expected at the multicultural Fringe festival. However, everyone seems to find it funny nonetheless and I personally enjoyed it a lot being able to understand the references.
Venus is an engaging and politically charged show, opening the audience’s eyes to the intersecting racism and sexism that black women face both in and out of comedy, whilst making them laugh at the same time.