By Chris Burgess
There aren’t that many funny ladies.
Oh dear – I can’t use that as an opening sentence for this review of the wonderful Penelope Solomon – because it sounds really sexist. Hell, there aren’t that many funny people. But Solomon is one of them.
Like a latter day Fanny Brice she brings funny Jewish bones to the stage and clowns around with great joie de vivre and humanity.
I’ve seen her before and enjoyed her work, but her latest show is a revelation. She truly brings herself and her life story to the stage disclosing indiscreet vignettes of her hilariously monstrous Jewish mother, her dippy hippy sister, and her long-suffering Jewish husband as well as delivering stories of a hotch-potch career in comedy that has taken her up many cul de sacs and driven her up even more walls.
Her good-natured dissection of failed attempts to ‘make it’ are worth any number of more famous comedians’ smug analyses of the price of fame.
Then there are her character sketches: a terminally depressed Gentile who fails miserably at converting to effervescent Judaism; and a sadistic South African linguist who bullies her students (the audience!) into speaking Yiddish gibberish.
Like they say – “you don’t have to be Jewish” – but in Penelope Solomon’s case we’re glad she is because of the effervescent comic mileage she gets out of it. Catch her when you can. Enjoy! Oy!