Seven years since her first solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe, Tiff Stevenson hits the audience right off the mark with a joke about 7/7. Unexpected and unapologetic, she makes no bid at false modesty: ‘if you can’t handle me at finger in bumholes, you don’t deserve me on politics.’ It’s a confident set, delivered by someone assured in both their comic capabilities and political stances. Though she delivers the laughs, it’s clear she’s also there to deliver a message: a message that is highly politicised and fiercely defiant.
She will weedle you out and have you laughing at ISIS and clitoris jokes by the end.
Seven hinges on Stevenson choosing the perfect message to tweet in the wake of the 2015 Paris attacks, guiding us through the moral dilemmas of each considered response: the egoism of tricolour filters, or even the distaste in sharing a reaction with Donald Trump. Attempting to achieve moral superiority in 140 characters, Stevenson shows the inevitable failure of doing so. Scoffing at the self-aggrandizing egoism of twitter users, Stevenson guides us through an hour of her own, and others’ deadly sins; leaving nobody morally unaccountable, and no twitter trend unturned.
In the first fifteen minutes alone she weaves her way around terrorism, abortion, social media and feminism, touching on each with her sardonic wit and cynicism. She takes her comic battle-axe to hypocritical celebrities (she can’t afford ethics), a vegetarian (she’s too lazy to not shop at Lidl), and our collective response to David Cameron and Brexit, leaving a nasty taste of guilt in the mouths of everyone in the room.
Though her working through of current Twitter-affairs can be somewhat hackneyed at times, her clever weaving of material and relaxed manner make this work to her benefit. Stevenson discusses her chosen topics with more wit and charisma than most, mixing stark realities with hilarious crudities. When a joke doesn’t quite land, she is entirely unfazed. Like Destiny’s Child, if the audience can’t handle her, she’ll call them out, and then invite you to join her side.
Turning her discussion inward, Stevenson leaves her set in Paris. Not the Paris of the attacks, but the Paris of a 30-something comedian: hungover and humiliated. She ends her set with notes of narcissism and self-loathing, showing the very personal and puzzled response we all have to acts of terror, and how this response can never be reduced to a 140 characters.
If you’re a feminist liberal, you’ll enjoy mentally saying ‘Yes!’ to everything Stevenson utters. If you’re uncomfortable discussing terrorism or genitals when you arrive, then she will weedle you out and have you laughing at ISIS and clitoris jokes by the end.