Jayde Adams has gone the full Edinburgh. Her serious black polo-neck tells you that. The fact there’s someone hawking serious black polo-necks outside the gig shows there’s a campaign strategy behind it too. Gone is most of the larking about, gone is the showstopping singing, and in its place is a “message”. That serious black jumper might be shopped to us as a bit of a piss-take, but the big ambitions for this show are fairly transparent.
It’s a habit of Fringe comics, especially those moving closer and closer to the centre of the industry, to start using career machinations as material. Thus we get some early banter about how last year’s show went and the work her agent did or didn’t get her afterwards. She’s explaining her workings, and why she’s gone so serious, as if the current career advantages in that weren’t apparent.
“What the Fringe needs – another show about feminism,” she jokes. If that’s true enough to be funny (and the audience agree it is) then you’d better be sure you’ve something new to bring to the table, and The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face probably isn’t it.
Beyoncé is first out of the blocks to be discussed. Specifically we’re asked to ponder why such a feminist icon would be happy having her ass grabbed on stage by her cheating husband or appearing behind him in photographs. All true of course. The contradiction is clear. But there’s nothing especially striking about the way it’s mined for laughs.
There’s a take-down of Perrie from Little Mix whose recent instagram confessional about anxiety was accompanied by a hot selfie. Unfortunately, Adams couldn’t restrict her take-down to the stage and had to take her to task online with a predictable pile-on from the fanbase as the outcome. Again, all quite right in terms of picking apart contradictions, but it doesn’t turn over new ground.
There’s a useful and nicely done primer for those of us who know little and care less who the Kardashian/Jenner clan are, which leads on to a comedy assassination of the world’s youngest billionaire and owner of the face in the title. And, as we reach the end, Gadsbyesque monologuing kicks in.
Adams talks about stepping out of her comfort zone for this one, a move that’s always to be admired. But when you have your own schtick, one that works, why wander so deliberately into already crowded territory? Her Best Newcomer nominated show of 2016, 31, manipulated our emotions, took us up, took us down, hit us with a jaw-dropping finale, was both silly and dripping in pathos at the same time. Only in spells do we see that spark and flair here. A handful of people give standing ovations, because that’s what you do for one of these shows, isn’t it? But when we encounter the black jumper sellers outside we feel manipulated again like we did in 2016, just not quite in the same way.