Sian Armstrong. Stupid. Northern stage. 6.3.19

Attempts at boundary pushing comedy have a tendency to be neither original or particularly interesting in an era where a high proportion of comics seem to forget originality, focusing instead on appropriating the styles and rhythms of successful comics.  If the 1990 and early 2000 music scene was all about sticking a hip hop beat over old samples, then the 2010 comic stable seem to suffer from similar originality challenges; taking a small cohort of successful styles (‘mockumentaries’ and ‘David Brent personalities’) and hoping that increasing their vulgarities will correlate with increasing the laughter.  Which it doesn’t.  Originality gets laughs, cheap rip-offs do not; or, given the number of awful comics selling out the Newcastle Arena, should not.  Broken down, Stupid is an incredibly sad piece of work which investigates the challenges of trying to balance societal expectations with the realities of a collapsed economy and increased work demands.  Armstrong’s choice of writing however, and her originality, steps us aside of any resigned pessimism and instead chooses to make her points through self-mocking and intertwined short stories.  It’s a brave writing choice which looks for an audience less in need of more of the same, and more interested in hearing a new voice and a new way of presenting our own lives back to us.  Avoid repetition and see this.

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