Yesterday, Wednesday 9th June 2016, I went to see Sara Pascoe perform at The Leadmill in Sheffield.
Some background: Sara Pascoe is a stand-up comedian I’ve recently discovered through YouTuber Hannah Witton’s video, Are We Sexually Liberated? If you haven’t watched it, I really recommend that you do. It’s a really funny, clever video that’s just two women chatting about sexuality and feminism is a super casual way.
Straight after watching that video, I went into full-on research mode as I made it my quest to learn all about Sara Pascoe. I read articles she’d written for the Guardian, the Independent and Standard Issue Magazine. Her book, Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body, went straight onto my TBR pile. And, of course, I watched her stand up clips on YouTube, and quickly realised, oh yeah! I have seen her before on Live at the Apollo! Needless to say, I’m now in love with Sara Pascoe.
I love watching comedy specials on Netflix, but I had only been to see a live stand up show once before. My friends and I are obsessed with the American comedian Iliza Shlesinger, and when we found out she was performing at the Soho Theatre in London on the August Bank Holiday weekend last year… well, it would be rude not to! The experience was amazing, the atmosphere at a live comedy show is electric and makes everything ten times funnier than when you’re sat at home watching them on Netflix or YouTube. To top it off, I even got to meet Iliza at the end!
Sara did not disappoint. She’s charming, irreverent, and fiendishly clever in a way that’s not intimidating or patronising. She has a brilliant mind which has catalogued every piece of research, every article she’s read or fact she’s learned. Then she digests it, thinks it over meticulously, and voila, presents it with a smart, offbeat opinion and silly pop culture reference.
With topics ranging from God, to what it means to be a good person, to online porn, to RuPaul’s Drag Race, there’s something for every flavour. One of my favourite bits from the show was when she was talking about how the drag queens could never pass as real women, because they are too confident in their own skin. It’s when Sara is talking about gender is when she really shines through, as she also rants about the ubiquity of online porn and how no one has any pubic hair any more.
She really just is a delight to watch, with a tangential way of storytelling which makes everything flow together nicely without distinct breaks between jokes. The routines she did about her poor handjob technique and the shenanigans she and her friends got up to as teenagers had me in stitches. She was really great at reacting to the crowd, not forcing interaction, but naturally being able to improvise with her surroundings.
She jokes about paying the majority of the bills in her household, and how her boyfriend had her life insured, but the devotion she inspires in her audience is astounding. While many comics just serve up their anxieties on a platter for easy laughs, Sara draws on her own (love, her body, having babies, you name it) to offer a provocative and positive new perspective on life. Her thoughts aren’t superficial, they serve a greater purpose as she shares her personal experiences to back-up her grand ideas.
Sara Pascoe is still on tour for another month, I would definitely recommend catching her show if she’s performing near you. See her website for more details.