"This is a nice little venue," said Gina Yashere, opening the second night of her national tour at The Y. As if to literally shed some light on her claim, the house lights were raised, just minutes after they had been lowered. This was, in fact, to allow Yashere to move among her audience, sitting ducks huddled around cabaret tables.
But they needn't have worried. Although Yashere is an experienced comedian, she spectacularly fails to make anyone squirm with embarrassment, passing up comedic opportunities, not least a man called Yorick.
It was an inauspicious start for what the Anglo-Nigerian comedian herself calls "an inclusive show". Perhaps it was a bit too inclusive at this stage. Nevertheless, with this introduction over, matters improved when she launched into her material proper. Yashere, known to many due to her appearances on the circuit as well as on TV's The Lenny Henry Show and Celebrity Fame Academy, has a few staple parts of her act that haven't really changed since she began doing stand-up in the mid-Nineties. Among them are her overbearing Nigerian mother, who, she says, would dissuade her from going on school trips by showing her a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings on bus crashes.
Racial stereotypes are inevitably a significant part of her act, and an area that she has skilfully tapped, on both the mainstream, predominantly white circuit, and the black theatre circuit. While sometimes she skims issues rather than explores them (for example, her routine on inter-racial adoption doesn't extend past how weird it might be for the child at first), she can do biting broadside, too.
In the second half, for example, she asks a newcomer if he has seen her before. "What was that thing you were in with the all-black cast?" he asks. "Were you thinking of Crimewatch?" comes her speedy reply.
Most disappointing, however, is the brevity of her stance on issues such as Iraq, where she recently entertained the British forces, despite not agreeing with the war itself. There's nothing more to her routine than admitting that the trip did her bank balance good.
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