Sara Barron: Enemies Closer review – brassy, sassy standup

The men have gone sensitive, it’s been said of this year’s fringe comedy – while female standups are occupying the sexed-up, raucous space left in their wake. Sara Barron is a case in point. Her new show couldn’t be brassier, sassier or louder-mouthed if it tried. It’s a leap forward from her best newcomer-nominated debut, parading her sex life, friendships and militant subjectivity across the stage. Enemies Closer also sends up, and epitomises, the black-and-white nature of modern judgment.

She begins by showing off the camel toe revealed by her skinny jeans: that’s the ballpark. Later, we will be invited to guess how many “peens” she has had in the “vageen”. One fine routine addresses the moment when a friend asks of a forthcoming get-together: “Is it OK if I bring Katy from work?” Real-life Sara said yes; on stage, where there is no premium on politeness, she rages at the affront.

Kneejerk judgmentalism ... Sara Barron





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Kneejerk judgmentalism … Sara Barron

That’s one of several neat observational nuggets where the American Barron names and shames an experience we may have had but not stopped to think about. The “ticking racist time bomb” when someone’s race is mentioned unnecessarily. The inconvenience of receiving WhatsApp messages in multiple tiny instalments.

Barron excoriates those responsible – and defends her right to do so, in a show celebrating “judgmental” as just another word for “perceptive”. She almost convinces you, helped by a closing routine (about a frenemy who becomes infuriatingly famous) that turns the judgment on herself. The persona is vulnerable, though, to the show’s one or two weaker routines. As was once the case with Joan Rivers, whose black-hearted New York comedy Barron brings to mind, cartoon vulgarity can feel 2D if all you are doing is – to pick one example – dissing James Corden for none other than the obvious reasons.

But at its best, Enemies Closer is much more than that. It is a step into the big league for this gleefully profane comic, that revels in (and obliquely satirises) the kneejerk judgmentalism once practised behind people’s backs, and now practised everywhere.

At Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, until 25 August.

Read all our Edinburgh festival reviews.

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