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Tiffany Stevenson: Cavewoman
Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011

4 stars

The Stand Comedy Club III & IV (venue website)
4 Aug, 1:50pm-2:50pm; 5-14, 16-24, 26-28 Aug, 2:25pm-3:25pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

Tiffany Stevenson was my favourite thing about ITV’s stand up comic talent show, Show Me the Funny. Not a great TV show it must be said, but that isn’t meant as faint praise. I am a big fan of Stevenson’s likeable charm and thought I knew just what to expect from Cavewoman.

In many ways, I got just that. Every comic at Edinburgh this year seems to be talking about class, and Stevenson added to that conversation with her bingo hall anecdotes, tales of how she has inherited her mother’s penchant for leopard print clothes, and poking fun at the mothers of Muswell Hill. Justin Bieber pops up. Stevenson mentions his Pro-Life stance in passing, and as a reference to one of the show’s surprising main themes: the teenager Stevenson might have now if she’d had a baby when younger, and her ambivalence to motherhood now.

This material echoes the show’s opening – some attention-grabbing gags about abortion. In fact, right from the top of the show, edgier, radical themes keep peeping through into Stevenson’s more standard stand-up fare. This was a far more political show than Stevenson’s 2010 Edinburgh hour, which was about, um, dictators. So, although Cavewoman purports to be about the struggles of modern women in a world of WAGs and botox, it isn’t really about that at all; and it often felt like Stevenson was hiding the show she really wanted to do under a leopard-skin coat.

I don’t want to sound like I’m criticising Stevenson for not performing the show I wanted to see. But her material about pro-choice issues and the references to how different her life had been if she’d had a child, coupled with her thoughtful comments about the pressures on young woman and their lack of strong role models in popular culture, felt like it was hinting at another more hard-hitting show underneath the one being performed. As it was, the overall effect was sometimes a bit thematically incoherent, railing against double-standards one moment and brushing it aside as a joke the next.

Stevenson’s a greatly likeable stand up, and a highly watchable performer. Her strong, clever, well-constructed material really does sparkle through her excellent performing skills. I wouldn’t blame her for wanting to stay that way, and reap the comedy-circuit returns. But this show hinted at something more radical underneath that safe girl-next-door persona; but those are themes that can’t be done half-heartedly, and I’d like to see the claws underneath the leopard print.

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