Saturday, 31 March 2018

Gillian English in Giant and Angry, March 30, 2018 ***


International act (Canada) 
Stars: *** 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published in Herald Sun online Comedy Festival Reviews on Sat March 31, 2018. 
Gillian English

Gillian English is feisty and fierce, and her fast-paced stand-up show, Giant and Angry, explains how her Canadian upbringing made her that way.

She grew up on a farm in isolated, rural Nova Scotia in eastern Canada, and her routine starts by milking the comedy inherent in her idiosyncratic parents: her dad is Shrek, and her mother is an assertive, feminist headmistress.

English was 5 feet 11 inches by the time she was 14, so being a ‘giant’, as she describes herself, features in much of her comic material.

When she was a child, men and boys assumed she was much older than her years, so her dad, who never met a problem that couldn't be solved with well-placed violence, decided to – wait for it – teach his daughter how to kill! Well, English describes it as learning how to 'incapacitate and run away'.

We are left gaping and laughing at the range, inventiveness and brutality of the methods her dad taught her to use to disable potential attackers.

Things start to get weird when English, as a teenager, decides to try to be more ‘feminine’, so she participates in beauty pageants – but losing makes her even angrier.

During her uni years, she was a casino showgirl, dressing up as Betty Boop and Marilyn Monroe, and some of her biggest laughs come from her stories about men who tried to put their hands on her when she was playing her showgirl characters. Her antics made her a casino legend!

English’s delivery is sometimes so rapid that we miss important dialogue, but she is engaging, funny and angry, so it seems appropriate that, hanging on the wall behind her, there’s a portrait of a manic-looking Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Now he’s angry!

At Fad Gallery, 14 Corrs Lane, Melbourne, until April 21.

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