Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Clara is a French woman who lives in the US. Or does she? She has a boyfriend and an ex husband. Or does she? Her mission, which she has chosen to accept is to save America, one joke at a time.
With an hour to fill Clara’s life has become quite a confusing mixture of what she says at the beginning and then admits to by the end. It’s a hit and miss affair that does deliver some decent material which when it is singling out the experience of her international approach is funny.
I am not sure though, how Clara will manage to save America and heaven knows, it does need saving, but through the show she weaves a narrative that takes in such topics as her kid, her cat and living in New York as well as moving to San Francisco.
The beginning was a little stilted and hesitant but once a stride was found the whole experience lifted and people were there with her, enjoying the anecdotes with verve. Her delivery I assured and confident and the pace she uses works well. I enjoyed the fact that the material was pitched in a way that was avoiding the cliché ridden joke telling of a lot of comedians on the circuit.
If we did not have the usual terminally ill clichés what we did get, and I liked, was the work on the kids as well as on moving to San Francisco. The whole piece about who is her husband and who is her boyfriend I liked a little less so. Similarly too, are we French, Canadian, an American citizen by choice or birth – didn’t quite understand how this fit within the routine. When telling it straight, for me it works, and Clara Bijl is an engaging and confident presence. Naturally funny with a larger audience you could see how the relationship between comic and audience would build, but here at the Fringe with a mic, the air conditioning and a small number who have made the effort, it can feel a little exposed.
It was, however, an easy hour to listen and she was well worth making the effort for. I didn’t belly laugh but much of her material stayed with me and I contemplated a few of the routines after I left. Late night at the Fringe must be a tough gig for any comedian and for Bijl it may prove to be tough to get the bums through the door but once inside they are in safe hands.