It’s hard out there for comedians; everyone’s a critic and with Twitter these days you can cut down someone’s long-slaved over act in 30 seconds and 140 characters. On top of that, it’s 2015 and every comedian with two X chromosomes still has the added pressure of the label ‘female comedian’ – a title that continues to make many recoil in fear of hearing jokes about lady bits, body image and worst of all, weddings. Not one to shy away, in Ellie Taylor’s debut show Elliementary she sods the nay-sayers and tackles these topics head on with her own particular take on the weird world of modern womanhood.
Taylor is a familiar face; she’s popped up on numerous BBC3 and E4 shows over the last few years, and arguably her most famous spot was bantering with a sassy makeover bot on Snog, Marry, Avoid, though the astute viewer may also remember the glamorous Matalan catalogue modelling years. Taylor draws on her experiences as a model, presenter and self-proclaimed feminist icon to navigate her personal battle with the modern dilemma of being a strong, 30-something, independent woman, but secretly just wanting her boyfriend to put a ring on it. Taylor’s endearing self-depreciation is a recurring theme within her silly tales and high-energy patter.
The upstairs room at the Soho is an ideal size for Taylor, intimate enough that she can elicit audience interaction straight off the bat, without the intimidating effect of a vast crowd. Be warned if you’re a guy sat near the front, Taylor will need a helping hand as my unsuspecting friend (who’d wanted to sit at the back) discovered much to my delight.
Elliementary is a fringe-friendly 60 minutes, but moves at incredible pace, leaping from gag to story and back to the confidently established running jokes. Taylor shows a real passion for the art of stand-up, however there are times when her hunger to entertain takes over and she seems so eager to dish out the jokes that there isn’t always enough time for the laughs to land. Her frenetic energy can tip over into nervousness and you find yourself willing her to relax, allow the audience space to embrace the silliness and connect to the punchlines.
Taylor promises an evening of ‘Fantaa’ which is feminist banter delivered by this particular character of the intelligent Essex girl who’s not afraid of making herself look ugly as she clowns around. It may not be groundbreaking, but it is refreshing. The politics of Elliementary may be mild, but Taylor is cleverly tapping into the market of comedy fans who want to see female experience put on stage to be laughed with instead of at. The potential in undeniable.
Elliementary is playing at Soho Theatre until 21 May. For more information and tickets, see the Soho Theatre website.