American stand-up Abigoliah Schamaun begins with a light-hearted comparison of national stereotypes – Americans are brash and uninhibited, Brits are more reserved – using an anecdote on a train as an example that hits all of the required comedic beats. However, it’s the bulk of the show, involving Schamaun’s legal status in the UK, that really makes it shine.
She starts by talking about her relationship with her partner, and gets a lot of laughs from how their shared neurodivergence (Schamaun has ADHD, her partner is autistic) brings them together. But when the issue of her staying in Britain emerges, the tone begins to shift into a more serious exploration of this country’s draconian immigration system.
This doesn’t mean that this section is a complete downer, with Schamaun providing witty descriptions of how she managed to elude authorities and her feisty pole dancer lawyer. However, her going into detail about the lengthy application process required to appeal to remain highlights the emotional impact such regulations have on migrants from any background. In particular, Schamaun’s description of the austere surroundings of the immigration court and the fear of other migrants there is quietly devastating, regardless of any comedic asides made.
Schamaun herself is what makes the show sing – her exuberant stage presence, attributed in part to her ADHD, not only captures the emotional highs and lows of her journey but also has the audience engaged from the start. Legally Cheeky ends on a high note, but Schamaun’s description of the unforgiving nature of the British immigration legal system remains stark.