Edinburgh Fringe 2019
An hour of gently risqué comedic songs with a bit of poetry thrown in for good measure.
Want to get your show to the top of the listings? Give it a catchy title that deploys numerals in the first word. Something like, “100% Cotton”, for example. But at least Liz Cotton can do this with a degree of justification as the title of her show captures exactly what the punters are going to get. Liz Cotton – on her own, with a guitar, dressed exclusively in cotton. Green cotton in fact as this appears to be her favourite colour.
That Cotton’s a classical guitarist is evident from the first few notes she plays during this hour of gently risqué comedic songs, as she charts her life as a rude song-writer. So worried was she about her chosen specialism that she hid what she did from her parents for decades, performing under a pseudonym for many years and avoiding putting anything on that exposer of all exposers, the interweb. But she’s finally decided to come out (of the closet) and admit to what she is, a very clever, charismatic performer of quite complex songs.
Cotton’s comedy is largely observational and all the better for it, as most of the packed audience were not only laughing with her and her musings but at themselves as the subject matter invariably hit the funny bone of reality. Sounding like a mix between Jake Thackray and Victoria Wood, she delivered each song with clarity and conviction making sure that we had time to absorb (and admire) the varying stanzas and rhyming patterns as well as her wacky sense of imagination and what works in a comedy song.
We got parody, irony, double entendre, innuendo and the pure self-deprecating in songs covering many aspects of everyday life – her son leaving home, a lament to flatmates, a surreal poem focused on flatulence, the performance (or lack of it) of some of the many and varied men she encountered in her early life (Seduction Song No. 19 was a particular highlight) culminating in a hilarious finale simply entitled “Sex”.
Cotton is clearly a master of her instrument so it was refreshing to listen to some quite complex music rather than the simple strumming that lesser musicians might have been tempted to deploy. Maybe more variation in terms of song tempo could have been deployed but the success of shows like this hinge on the audience being able to listen to the lyrics as well as absorb their meaning so I can empathise with Cotton’s desire to keep things simple.
Cleverly amusing with just the right amount of naughtiness, Liz Cotton has made the right decision to “come out” at this year’s Fringe. I’ll bet she comes back.