The fact that Yuriko Kotani is performing comedy in a language other than her native first language seems to be more of a perceived problem for her than for her audience. Indeed, her own apprehensions (and preemptive apologies) actually begin to be a frustration, serving no purpose other than as an unneeded obstacle between the audience and the material. She snatches a huge victory from the jaws of this potential defeat, though, with an excellent extended routine at her own expense, mocking her Japanese accent. It ends with a lovely subverted double punchline, perhaps the strongest in the show.
Kotani’s subject matter rarely strays from her obvious safezone of Japanese/UK cultural differences. A pity, since her more general observational material is actually some of her best. Her slightly hesitant and guileless delivery masks a core of confidence that is all too rarely allowed free reign.
Kotani is happy to admit that she’s at a relatively early stage of her comedy career – and, if truth be told, it shows. Not through ineptitude or incompetence, though, but rather through an avoidance of risk-taking and a desire to hand-hold the audience a little too much. The talent and natural comedic ability on show here is obvious nonetheless. Kotani is immensely likeable, with a natural charm that is both disarming and sincere. It’s not a very adventurous or ground-breaking set, but it’s a solid and enjoyable hour of comedy with a wide appeal.