Edinburgh Fringe 2019
American Jena Friedman is a stand-up comedian, writer and filmmaker. This show is her take on what is happening in America and American politics.
World politics are in turmoil. Leadership in the U.S. is topsy-turvy. Britain’s leadership just changed hands. People are talking about climate change, rising bigotry, gun violence, women’s rights, effective parenting, and more. With the Democratic Party debates on U.S. TV, the hotly contested 2020 U.S. presidential election, and the continuing tweetstorm from President Trump, one way to address issues is with comedy. And Jena Friedman’s political stand-up is perfectly timed. Jena tackles many of the controversial and headline-grabbing topics, no holds barred. She says that it is hard to talk about stuff in America, because these topics are not just funny, they are real. From the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its choke-hold on politicians to foreign meddling in U.S. elections (“they shouldn’t do it because meddling is America’s thing”), from the environment to immigration, she takes on the issues that are top of mind in the U.S. and globally. She is the proverbial canary in the coal mine, using her comedy to alert people to serious concerns. She dips a toe into the world of Brexit, calling Boris Johnson “Tesco Trump”. She talks about Melania Trump and detention centres. Recently-jailed Jeffrey Epstein and R. Kelly provide fodder for lines about abuse of women and the Metoo movement. Since Trump took office and continues to rally his base, there has been a marked increase in hate crimes. That’s not funny, but Jena manages to deliver the message without making it depressing. Not all of her subjects are political. She addresses parenting and surrogacy, religion, crime shows, data mining, dating, literacy, polyamorous relationships, robots, and more. And she’s very funny. Jena makes you think about the topics long after you have left the show, which can be an instigator of conversations. Is social media destroying democracy? She ponders the question, leaving the listener to take a look at it. Her writing is smart, acerbic, and insightful, delivered in a well-paced presentation.
So how do we survive the turmoil? For Jena, it’s hope, not optimism. By mobilizing her audiences to think about the challenges and act, she can be a voice for positive change. She continues her work beyond the stage in an upcoming movie with producer/comic Andy Samberg and a special on the Adult Swim channel, entitled Soft Focus with Jena Friedman.
Come to this show to be challenged and entertained. It is well worth your hour. It is for adults, not kids.