FringeReview UK 2016
Sandi Toksvig – comedian, novelist, actor, broadcaster, university chancellor, and (inter)national treasure, MC. She now finds herself in the startling position of having co-founded the UK’s fastest growing political party, the Women’s Equality Party.
Sandi Toksvig tells us that 95% of the thoughts we have we also thought yesterday. But she is definitely tapping into that last 5% of original brain power with her fundraising show to raise awareness (and money) for her new Women’s Equality Party.
A glorious mixture of stand up, anecdotes, feminist soapboxing and campaigning, Toksvig’s latest show works very well, and I got the sense that she was definitely speaking to ‘her people’ at the show in Brighton Dome on International Women’s Day.
Toksvig is a very relaxed person to watch onstage – she inhabits it so easily you could imagine that she was in her living room talking to a few mates. Something further confirmed by her very ‘unstagey’ outfit of black jeans and a sweatshirt. This attitude helps immediately to establish a casual and confident rapport with the audience, and a very funny moment of the show is when she gets some hapless punters up onstage to play a game of Wiff Waff (the original British Raj version of Table Tennis.)
The underlying theme of the show is of course Women’s Equality, as that is the sole purpose of the political party she founded last year. The only party, she says, whose main aim is to not exist in the future. However, there is no danger of this being a dry lecture on women’s lib, Toksvig approaches the subject with humour and brains, peppering her delivery with interesting facts. For instance, there are just 7 women running FTSE 100 companies, whilst there are 17 men called John in the same position! Or, that women weren’t allowed to run in the Olympic marathon until 1984.
She aims with the show to educate and inform her audience about the need for women’s equality, and of course to get them to sign up to her political party. There is even a (slightly awkward) section of the show where the local branch manager of the party and her friend come up onstage to talk to Toksvig. It is a bit laboured, and I wasn’t sure why two people needed to be interviewed, but Toksvig hosted the conversation with grace.
The show is fast paced, with all the jokes and sections illustrated with a powerpoint display of slides that she clicks through as she goes. Toksvig is eminently likeable, and clever, and there were many whoops and cheers as she reminded us that she was the new host of QI, and the first woman ever to front a panel show on the BBC! She left us in no doubt of the need for the Women’s Equality Party, and whether or not they get any seats in parliament, I am sure with Sandi Toksvig at the helm, persuading people to support her cause with jokes that are just the polite side of risqué, they should do well over the coming years.