Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Martha McBrier: Pigeon Puncher, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Kate Copstick.
In 2009 a German study was published in the renowned Journal of Pragmatics which suggested that humour is an act of aggression. Well, the Germans have never seen Martha McBrier. In Martha’s show, not only do we laugh almost all the time and smile when we are not laughing but we feel… loved.
McBrier is an extraordinary performer who turns Glaswegian vernacular into something approaching poetry and in it tells wonderful, hilarious stories from a life mainly devoted to, she tells us, “do-gooding” (except for the episode with the wee budgie, of course, but that was unintentional and McBrier was as upset as the bird. Although, to be fair, it did die.)
This is humour on a whole different level from almost any other comic I can think of. Everything she says makes you smile. And most of it makes you laugh out loud. Her tales are beautifully crafted and every so often she will drop in a line that is so perfectly, gently funny it hurts. We get stories about the “wee Somali lady” and her baby getting on a bus, the pathological helpfulness of Glaswegians, fun at the zoo with the children of the Domestic Violence Department, compulsory smoking, being bitch-slapped by a penguin called Barry, her training as a clinical hypnotherapist and the problem Scots have with Linda McCartney. McBrier has not had an easy life and she is – thanks to the tumour she developed in 2007 – going deaf. Which makes the last story she tells before her grand finale – involving a memory foam mattress and Kate Bush – at one and the same time the funniest and the most poignant thing you will hear this Fringe. We finish the hour with a little bit of community singing. We don’t mind. By this time we’d do anything for McBrier. This will be a glorious hour of your life, I promise.
Laughing horse @ Finnegan’s Wake (Venue 101) until 29 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 12 August 2015
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