32-year-old Abbie Murphy has reached a point in her life where she’s reconciled herself to who she has become. Sure, she might not have achieved her wildest aspirations as a dancer or showgirl, but she’s worked out there are only four acts necessary to achieve happiness – the very same four laid out in the title of her show. Appropriately, Eat Sleep Shit Shag is an hour of amusing anecdotes undercut with mock bitterness that serve to give her comedy an acerbic aftertaste.
Peppered with stories from her time as a showgirl aboard a cruise liner and as a dancer in Bollywood, Murphy’s stand-up veers from the crass to the commonplace (and often straddles both). With her strong Essex accent and breakneck pace, her delivery is both a boon and a drawback; her high energy levels ensure that the tempo remains upbeat despite the often pessimistic subject matter, but the rapid-fire diction makes it difficult to keep up at times.
The same can be said for her overall demeanour. Her rants are imbued with impeccable comic insight and her prickly dryness is what gives the material punch, but the contempt often spills over into standoffishness, leaving the audience unsure of the ground they stand on. Having said that, Murphy has natural charisma by the bucketload, so despite claiming she’s “not very good at being nice”, she’s never in danger of alienating the room beyond salvation.
For a show that relies heavily on her catalogue of failures (failure to get a mortgage, a marriage, 2.4 children and all the other hallmarks of an apparently successful life), Eat Sleep Shit Shag is surprisingly life-affirming stuff – especially for one that foregrounds the third named activity far more than the others. Regardless of her dubious status as a failure in the aforementioned categories, she’s most definitely a stand-out success as a stand-up comedian.