Catherine Bohart has a theory about the way we’ve decided to do break-ups, like any of it is remotely normal behaviour. You know how she knows this, besides having just gone through one with another well-known comedian (but let’s just park that for a moment). She knows breaking up with someone is deranged because at no point are we taking a friend we’ve lost interest in to the café for a formal coffee about how’s it not you it’s me.
I saw This Isn’t For You at the Monkey Barrel. It’s a fabulous show about what it’s like to be an adult lesbian dumped in your thirties. I’m sure it’s not funny at the time but Bohart is hilarious. Is this what is means when they talk about creating art from pain? The unhelpful insights of helpful friends (such an opportunity!), the rallying around the dumpee (the opposite of a dumper?), and the very relatable process of disentangling two lives intimately bound by a shared BT contract as well as the BBC podcast you co-host together called You’ll Do. I mean, c’mon.
Apparently this isn’t the show Bohart wanted to write, but I’m so glad is is. I can’t imagine a lockdown routine hits this hard. If comedy is about making lemons from lemonade, This Isn’t For You is a Sprite factory zest-fest of laughter that bubbles away steadily for the entire hour. Her patter is frank and ballsy, so I expect she’d hate that description. But there’s vulnerability and risk to the show too, which pays off hugely as she takes aim at the audience. I would say it’s juiced from the heart, but that sounds gross so I’ll leave the lemon metaphor there before I cut myself on the peeler or someone takes matters into their own hands.
Speaking of which, I’ve never seen a comedian cut down a heckler so surgically. The audience at the Barrel was a swing-door of disruption at the beginning of the show and Bohart did well to keep our focus. Then just when things were really getting going, the politest lady you’ve ever met decided it would be a good idea to chip in during the crucial pause before the punchline to enquire what happens next. We all knew the punchline was coming. You could tell from the silence in the room. Bohart had us rapt. You can feel the rhythm building to a laugh - a big one too - and then, ppffft. There it goes into the ether, like a wet fart.
A quick put-down from Bohart about how a joke works, and we’re back on our feet for another run up. She lands the punchline on the second swing. It’s an absolute masterclass in keeping things moving. The rest of the show runs without a hitch, and I don’t think anyone’s really noticed that we stalled in the first place. What a class act.
What I like about Bohart’s comedy is that the laugh’s sometimes hidden the story and every once in a while you won’t see it coming. I think what the polite lady who unwittingly nearly ruined the show for everyone did was mistake the relatability of the performance for a chat with her mates down the pub. She was invested in the stand-up and she forgot herself. Hecklers are never a compliment in disguise, but I think this is as close as we’re going to get to one.
Ironically, the audience clearly think This Isn’t For You isn't for her but them. I can now hear the bravado in the title (it’d be awkward if we didn’t think it was relatable). I wonder if there’s a touch of Carly Simon in there too, Either way, the conclusion arrives too quickly and the show fizzles out at the last moment. (Are we pressed for time? Is this another lemonade gag?) It’s been a brilliant show up until this point. Who cares if it’s not neatly wrapped up. Because I also think this show is for me.
For tickets and more information, visit edfringe.com