Fortitude allows Angela Barnes, well known for her appearances on BBC’s Mock The Week, to provide the audience with an hour of foul-mouthed and inspired material covering a wide range of topics. One particular highlight is Barnes’ series of jokes about turning 40, which branch off into various tangents; the most entertaining of which involves reciting a poem entirely from memory despite her hatred of poetry. This in turn results in a concluding call-back that acts as an inventive way to end the evening.
The entertainment factor is helped by Barnes’ informal delivery and extroverted stage presence which keeps the audience engaged throughout and helps deal with disruptions to the show. One particular disruption results in Barnes expertly digressing into a rant about millennials that is hilarious whilst also maintaining the overall flow of the show.
Barnes’ use of semi-autobiographical material also enables her to provide an interesting digression into her love of Cold War-era nuclear bunkers, which combines both humorous recollections of the 1980’s-era “Protect and Survive” Public Information films, with information about deactivated bunkers in Scotland that serves as a unique form of edutainment; albeit one that also involves childhood memories of concrete deathtrap playgrounds and second-hand smoke.
On a more serious note, Barnes uses this material to draw obvious connections between the Cold War paranoia of her youth and similar feelings of fear and uncertainty following the election of Trump as well as Brexit, providing her childhood worries and interests with sobering resonance.
Angela Barnes: Fortitude is a fine example of first-rate stand-up comedy, combining traditional gags with autobiographical reminisces and political commentary to produce a show that appeals to everyone in the audience. Barnes is worth watching if you want to see an experienced and confident comedian work her magic for an hour.