On paper, at least, Barr has no shortage of material. Her life is strewn with personal mishaps, public relations disasters and, more recently, failed projects including a chat show, a cooking show and a reality show based around doing the cooking show. Certainly, Barr is under no illusions that her star status has seen better days, and played on this tonight, appearing in the deliberate persona of a fading starlet.
Enveloped in leopard-skin-patterned pyjamas, Barr explained that her one-hour show had a simple message - that the world is imminently going to end. It seems that touring with Michael Moore during the presidential elections in 2004 not only whetted Barr's appetite for a return to live performing but also for a healthy dose of liberal doom-mongering.
On Barr's imaginary "The End Is Nigh" placard are the nuclear capability in rogue states, the stupidity of world leaders, the faddish diet industry, the mercenary pharmaceuticals industry, and the extremism of Christian fundamentalism. However, this wasn't a rant, which was a pity, as a bit more passion may have given her one-liners more bite.
There were moments of clarity, however. "Why run a tight ship when you are living in a sewer?" the comic lamented, identifying the political apathy she sees around her. Meanwhile, back on the family hearth, where she built her reputation, Barr shows she still has the recipe for domestic wisdom: "I love being a grandparent and using small children to get even with my daughter." For a large part of the show, however, gags are well-worn more than home-grown, such as the male recognition that one inch on a map equals a hundred miles and the parallel with claims about his manhood size.
Perhaps it was too much to hope that Barr, after a decade away from public consciousness here (and arguably in the US), could come back all guns blazing. Yet this is one American who I would actively encourage to make more of her firepower.
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