And they say Art History degrees are pointless. Edinburgh College of Art graduate Harriet Braine makes the counter argument very well this evening as she shows just how much fun and life insight can be had from knowing your artists. With her tight set of comedy songs, she gives the Sportsters clientele both a foundation course on the great and good of the art world, and more than a few laughs.
No prior knowledge of the art world is assumed, of course; the songs work whether you’re a Life Member of the Tate or you’ve never got any further than Art Attack. They also plunder pop history for suitable settings. Thus, Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights becomes a dedication to the mighty Leonardo – ‘It’s me, Da Vinci…’ – and Sting is no longer telling a prostitute not to sell her body to the night, but serenading us about a Post Impressionist – ‘Ceeeeeeeezzzzzaaaaaannnne’.
All artistic life is here – Matisse, Damian Hurst, Frida Kahlo, Bauhaus, Rennie Mackintosh – and the musical palette is full of colour, offering a wide spectrum of musical styles, with voices and accents to match. It has Radio 4 written all over it, yet isn’t self-satisfied in its casual use of highbrow cultural knowledge.
Some songs do feel a little slight, however. An extra verse or two here and there would complete them. There are also times when song structure gets messed around with for insufficient pay-off. But these are early days for Braine. It’s obvious how she won the Musical Comedy Awards Best Newcomer 2016 and how she ended up in the So You Think You’re Funny? final, and a shame she’s stuck doing these educational little ditties in the back of a sports bar of all places.