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Rhona Cameron

Ed Fringe 2007 reviewed by Alan Sharp

Rhona Cameron has been taking some time off stand-up comedy for the past four years while she wrote a few novels and got her head back together. So this has been marketed as something of a “comeback show,” which in a way puts more pressure on the performer than if it had been just a low key return.

Cameron has always been something of a trailblazer. She was one of Britain’s first, if not the first, openly lesbian television personalities. As such, there has always been something of a weight of responsibility on her, as kind of a “spokesperson for her people.” But this also gives her a certain freedom that other gay female comics don’t have; she has no need to explain or justify herself, she can simply jump straight in both feet first.

At one point Cameron says that “this isn’t just going to be a lesbian show,” but in all honesty to a great extent it is. Probably two thirds of the material deals with lesbianism in one way or another, and along the way she provides some education on lesbian lifestyle for the straight folk among the audience, including why lesbians don’t wear flip-flops, and why they always travel around in such large groups. But there is plenty of non-lesbian material also, including a very funny routine about nut allergies.

I couldn’t help feeling, however, that maybe she has been living in middle-class London suburbia too long, and some of the material was misjudged for an Edinburgh fringe audience. Observational comedy needs to stay within the frame of reference of its audience, and for instance a routine about the problems of buying jeans in Abercrombie and Fitch went right over my head, and I suspect those of many of the others present.

I also felt that the delivery was slightly nervy and faltering, and I suspect she was having a bit of an off night. Maybe it was the stifling heat of the room, or possibly it was because Neil and Christine Hamilton were in the audience which is enough to put anyone off their stride, but things just didn’t seem to be flowing right, and I think seen on a different night this might have been an altogether different review.

But, ever the professional, in the end she managed to pull things together, and to finish with five minutes of frenetic material that was seat-wettingly funny. So in the end I’m not sure what to say about this performance. If she wasn’t at her best, and she certainly wasn’t, then at least she was “good enough”, and maybe it’s just that stand-up is a game that requires constant practice and she’s just a bit rusty. I hope she doesn’t stay away so long before the next time.