Run time: 103 mins
Maxine Peake rules the roost as an ambitious club performer in the dark days of British stand-up.
Working the Northern comedy circuit of the 1970s and 80s, Peake’s pithy central character remains unnamed, instead defined by the casual misogyny and common language of the era (‘Funny Cow’ and more). Segments of a life story are cut into scenes on stage where she recalls her troubled past. As flashbacks dip haphazardly into various periods, before settling onto her childhood, we take the place of the club audience whose laughter fades as the grim realities of growing up poor with a drunken mother and a violent father unfold.
Acknowledging the racism, sexism and homophobia that tainted the humour of the period, we’re given a real sense of what forged a ruthlessly tough woman willingly prepared to take on the ‘blokes’ at their own game and beat them with their own weapons.
“There is no moral, and in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, there is no hugging, no learning. There is just a hypnotically belligerent performance from Peake, whose anti-heroine explodes like a firework, burning herself to an ashy crisp.” (Guardian) (research Chris Coetsee). Sounds like a belt in the mouth from all sides. See what you think.