Review – Sarah Millican – Thoroughly Modern Millican, Venue150 @ EICC, Edinburgh Fringe

Tuesday 16 August 2011

That’s the problem with sold-out shows in large venues on the Fringe.

How long in advance do you need to get there to queue to stand the chance of a decent seat? The Fringe is all about unreserved seating and you know the Whingers’ thoughts about that.

So we opted to arrive at the Assembly Hall half an hour early, but that clearly wasn’t enough. Could that long queue snaking endlessly into the distance possibly be ours? Yes, it was! And of course it was raining. But that’s the lure of South Shields stand-up Sarah Millican these days. Her meteoric rise to fame must be taking even her by surprise. It seems she’s never off the telly; she’s even a semi-regular on Loose Women. Is there anything she says no to? She’s this year’s Miranda Hart but worse. She keeps doing The Marriage Ref, for god’s sake. 

But the biggest shock to the Whingers (and probably some of the audience who see her gentle and hilarious self-deprecating comedy on the box) is how potty-mouthed her act is. You wouldn’t hear Victoria Wood saying “fu**” in almost every other line nor talking about “taking a sh*t” (“the trailers have started”) or talking about erections and uttering the “C” word.

Most of the audience, including ourselves, were falling about laughing but many were stony faced. Presumably they, like us, hadn’t expected this at all. The title, Thoroughly Modern Millican was possibly a bit too subtle.

But her material is largely very funny despite its blue tinge. The tight one hour show even has a small amount of audience participation involving the sampling of Space Dust, remember that? We, of course, do.

The audience are invited to muse on whether they’re a bumper car or a dodgem. Andrew rather astonishingly saw himself as a bumper car: a risk taker, but since he books for every show at the Cottesloe Theatre perhaps there’s a grain of truth in there. Phil (someone who will get halfway down the street before returning home to see if he’s left the iron on; and he never irons) is certainly a dodgem. Millican sees herself as the latter too although this is a characteristic hard to swallow from someone delivering stand-up.

On collecting their dodgem/bumper car badges (Phil picked a bumper car badge by mistake because the writing was so so small) on the way out a member of the Front of House staff accosted Phil saying “Didn’t I see you on stage the other day?” (And no, it wasn’t Mark Shenton multi-tasking in his few minutes between shows). Phil was thrilled and of course puffed himself up like the Underbelly inflatable cow while Andrew, understandably, turned its colour: purple with suppressed apoplexy.


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