Like a lot of young comics, Gráinne Maguire seems so young and physically frail that her command of the stage is quite astounding. She opens her show by mocking her own appearance and fashion choices; among gags at her own expense, she tells us that she’s ‘not the ghost of a Second World War geography teacher’. It’s a perfectly measured joke. Not only is it funny in its own right, it leaves Maguire in control of any humour deriving from her lack of glamour.
Maguire reveals that her cheerful disposition derives from her expectations that are so low that they’re enshrined in law, after a text message she sent to a dodgy landlord was cited in court as evidence that one of his properties wasn’t as bad as others claimed. The story is charmingly told and helps to contribute to an intriguing self-portrait that provides the bedrock of this charming show.
The Irish comedienne uses a childhood tale of a disappointing holiday to banter with a young man in the front row whose inability to describe his own experiences beyond the single word ‘Pontins’ had her wondering aloud whether it might be something he ‘needs to talk about’ It was a terrific way of dealing with a recalcitrant punter and handled without the slightest hint of cruelty. The audience loved it. Later she directed a question about ‘secret crushes’ to the young man’s girlfriend and she named someone at her school rather than a celebrity, Maguire neatly brought it back to the earlier banter by suggesting that the young woman and his boyfriend ‘need to sit down and work through their issues’.
Maguire’s own secret crush provides an additional layer to her show as she reveals that she’s passionate about politics and that she’s recently joined the Labour Party. This proves a surprisingly fertile source of humour and her account of an incident at the end-of-conference bash gives her another chance to emphasise her low expectations, this time in a romantic context. She also manages to offer a wonderfully cynical verdict on Kate Middleton which she uses to good effect later in the show when imagining her own future prospects.
It’s natural for comics in the earlier stages of their career to talk largely about their own lives and it’s one of comedy’s curiosities that some manage to do this with a lightness that others just can’t manage. Maguire speaks almost exclusively about herself but this never becomes a problem as she possesses so much charm. This is an excellent show, which establishes Maguire as someone to watch out for.