Skip to content


Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow Francesca Martinez: What the **** is Normal?!
Francesca Martinez: What the **** is Normal?!
Published on Sunday, 14 August 2011

4 stars

The Stand Comedy Club V (venue website)
4 Aug, 5:00pm-6:00pm; 5-7, 9-14, 16-21, 24-28 Aug, 7:35pm-8:35pm
Reviewed by Rachel Hartley-Davison

 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

From the moment she is helped to her seat on stage, it is clear that Francesca Martinez is, as she puts it, wobbly. But her version of stand up (or rather “stand down”) is one of her most solid and accomplished acts to date. Born with cerebral palsy, she was also born with an innate comic ability.

Martinez is a compelling comedian – her show is insightful and packed with laughs. From the get-go, she implores us to question what we mean by ‘normal’ people. Musing on her experience as someone with a disabilty, she takes aim at the very words used to describe her condition. To her, ‘cerebral palsy’ sounds “like a Doctor Who villain" – and she follows with a hilarious romp through other terms which are at odds with their true meaning ('friendly fire' anyone?).

Turning the focus back to her wobbly life, Francesca adeptly coveys what it felt like as a child to be 'not-normal' – and there are some comedy gems in there. She picks a member of the audience to recreate an excruciatingly funny episode of teenage angst (suffice to say it involves poetry).
In the second half of the act her material really comes into its own – she delivers witty and revealing anecdotes about her experience as a wobbly adult. Her career as an actor (she was on Grange Hill, and will be widely familiar from a guest turn on Extras) and latterly as a comedian is intriguing. Shockingly, she is considered ‘too scary’ for TV panel shows – the producers clearly have a wobbly sense of humour.

The hour-long show sped past, and I was left wanting more from this sparklingly talented performer. Without revealing too much, the piece at the end of her show was definitely not the ‘normal’ end to a comedy excursion – but it was powerful enough to make me both laugh and cry.  If you want to watch something other than normal, you could do no better than heading to The Stand this Fringe to see a challenging but very funny comedian in Francesca Martinez.

<< FRESHER the Musical   The Comedy Zone >>