Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Dry as a desert humour from Naomi Paul, with deadpan stories and some nice comic songs.
Naomi Paul likes biscuits. And the enormous tin full which comes out half way through the show means she keeps her promises too, as we all gladly tuck in at this teatime event.
Paul likes irony too, telling a good story in a deadpan style that leaves you pondering as well as gently chuckling away. She launches her one-woman show at the comfortably appointed theSpaceUK Surgeons Hall venue with a veritable tirade (for her at any rate) against a new library. The £200 million new Birmingham Library that opened to a great fanfare back in 2013, in fact, which still claims it’s one of the most important libraries in Europe. Only council cutbacks mean that it can now only afford to open from 11am until 5pm most days. Somewhat ironic given that it’s supposed to be offering access to books for all, at convenient times.
Further examples expose the rank stupidity that we seem to tolerate in both our public services and in our lives in general. Rules that appear to be for the benefit of the bureaucrats rather than helping those at whom the regulations are targeted. Doorstep evangelists more interested in collecting bonus points than in the message they’re trying to communicate. Paul’s experience of a rather sadistic, matronly shop assistant fitting her with her first bra. The vagaries of securing an NHS appointment. Daft HSE rules.
The list of experiences and characters rolls on, each story very gently told and nicely linked through her careful, meticulous choice of words. That’s where Paul scores. Her diction is as clear as crystal, every word enunciated to perfection, each story carefully signposted so that there’s no danger of a punch line getting swallowed. A lot of stand-up comedians might benefit from watching how she delivers material, allowing the audience time to listen and appreciate, rather than just the former.
Her political persuasions led to a suggestion of imbalance and predictability towards the end of the show, but it’s all pretty gentle and non-confrontational so Guardian/New Statesmen leaners might want to check this out. But I don’t think we’ll be seeing the blond Boris on the guest list. Even if there are still some biscuits left.