Monday, August 20, 2012

Judith Lucy: Nothing Fancy ( Canberra Theatre)

Judith Lucy is a very funny woman.

I mean, why else would a couple of hundred people find themselves queuing in a mad snake of a line in and about the Canberra Theatre foyer to collect tickets to her show?

It was strange start to the evening, and I suspect was based on a problem with the ticketing system, a conclusion based on no real evidence except that the three disturbingly unhurried staff behind the counter were none of the usual staff, who are pretty much like family to me by now*, and my ticket took some time to retrieve and was marked "reprint", which it shouldn't have been, because it wasn't one.

In any event, once I got inside at last and dislodged from my allocated seat a geriatric usurper who proved merely to be alphabetically challenged, I was more than ready for a few laughs.

And I got them!

Judith Lucy is one of the best comedians I've seen at audience interaction. She's never at a loss for a way to respond, and has the audience just where likes them. She has a style reminiscent of Dame Edna in some ways, though in her case the grandiose statements are self-deprecating. When she calls herself brilliant, it's a joke - except she is, so why do we laugh? And she has a way of taking simple statements and delivering them with an inflexion that somehow makes them hilarious, over and over again. I've loved her since the champagne comedy of The Late Show, which I will never give up hoping to see back on TV.

The last Judith Lucy show I saw was her I Failed! tour in 2006. Lucy had been sacked from her radio gig, but was happily engaged. The humour was self-deprecating as always, but it was about career, and family, and a whole raft of things. I laughed til it hurt. It was a show worth a couple of hundred ab crunches at least.

This was another funny show, but for some reason it didn't pull me in as hard. I think part of it is that with her career now on cruise control, but single again, a fair chunk of Lucy's routine is given over to the plight of the single middle-aged woman and where are all the men. I'm a tiny bit completely sick to death of this theme from female comedians. I'm far from unsympathetic, and there's a rich vein of material, sure, but it's not that new. And I don't hear male comedians having the same conversation. And it makes me want to say: "Are we really still talking about this? Really? Still?"

But there's a lot more material than this in the show; Lucy talks about the making of her TV series, a move to Sydney, some of her less "mainstream" gigs, her cameo appearance in the movie The Sapphires and the weird way in which she can be quasi-famous and completely unrecognised at exactly the same time.

So yes, she's funny, and yes, it was well worth the price of admission. But I'll go dig out my copy of  The Lucy Family Alphabet for Judith Lucy at her best.

* That is, we know each other by sight, see each other occasionally on weekends, and keep our conversations brief and polite.

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