Sara Pascoe, Assembly George Square, review: 'Her most clear-eyed hour of stand-up yet'

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014: 'This is Pascoe at her peak'

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Sara Pascoe comes out on stage wearing glasses. They’re new, she tells us. “So my observational comedy has really improved.” That’s not really the case - Pascoe has never been a run-of-the-mill “have-you-ever” comedian but this is definitely her most satisfyingly focussed and clear-eyed hour of stand-up yet.

Pascoe, 33, has been on the circuit for some time now. When she first emerged she was all angles, elbows, eccentricities and tortuous metaphors - like a blonde, female hybrid of Russell Brand and Noel Fielding.

Now, via appearances on The Thick of It, Twenty Twelve (she played Siobhan’s minion at Perfect Curve, Coco Lomax) and numerous television panel shows, she has found her voice and a natural, extremely likeable groove on stage.

It still looks scatterbrained, spontaneous and naive but this time there’s an added confidence - hers and ours - that it will all come together and make sense in the end.

Sara Pascoe vs History is about love - teenage crushes, failed first love and the bittersweet joys and jealousies of her current relationship.

Woven in between her own tales of camping outside the Big Breakfast studios to stalk Take That and the challenges of dating a fellow stand-up (John Robins) who also mines their relationship for material, are neat little observations on the dynamics of famous couples - Adolf and Eva, Adam and Eve, Napoleon and Josephine. “If Adam and Eve can’t make it work in Paradise”, she worries. “How am I going to make it work in Lewisham?” 

Pascoe has done an impressive amount of research, too, into anthropology and female sexuality,the better to understand why she, a thirtysomething woman, behaves the way that she does.

From theories on why small-breasted women aren’t extinct to the vagaries of her own libido and desire for children, it is extremely engaging, if in places more intriguing than hilarious. “I’m as a surprised as you that I’m up here talking about sperm selection” - she marvels at one point.

There is also some very fine material about modern womanhood and everyday sexism, which tackles Miley Cyrus (“Grinding around, licking things, like a Jack Russell”), bikini waxing and FHM, among other things.

Her suggestion of how to solve the Page 3 conundrum - no spoilers here - is a little piece of common sense genius that will prove impossible to forget. This is Pascoe at her peak.

To 25 August (0131 623 3000)