An American’s Guide to being like totally British
Alexis Wieroniey @ Astor Hotel – Astoria Room
6:00pm, Fri 7 Mar 2014
In my experience, audiences at early-Friday-evening comedy shows can be either embarrassingly non-existent, or boisterously buoyant for the performer. However, this Fringe seems to enjoy throwing plenty of curve-balls my way, and so it was that I discovered a new form of audience: the Friday-night-drunken-fuckknuckle.
To be fair, there was only really a trio of said FNDFs in the crowd (of maybe two dozen), but unfortunately they occupied a table just in front of the stage, with two of them freely chatting to each other throughout the show. Or sitting there, not laughing, arms crossed high – which I’d imagine to be almost as useful to a performer. But the brazen nature of their conversations – often starting in the middle of a joke – was just flabbergasting.
I’d arrived a little early this evening and fallen into conversation with Ross Voss, who was running the Astor venues; however, I was somewhat surprised to see him open up the show with a loose five minutes. His wry wordplay always seems at odds with his quirky delivery, and that makes me grin like a loon… but the rest of the audience was a little unsure. That didn’t faze Ross, though, and he hammered through some decent gags before introducing Alexis Wieroniey.
Alexis introduces herself as an American who chose to settle in the UK; there’s a few jokes about her citizenship test, and some expected comparisons between the two cultures… but the show soon devolves into material around her relationships, her breakups, and – more prominently – her sex life. And she’s pretty open about what she chooses to tell the audience – there’s a great story of a pickup-gone-wrong that ended with the phrase “too be less slutty, I had to have sex with him” – and plenty of penis-related material (hey – penises seem to be the In Thing this Fringe) gained through experience. But there’s also less bawdy material – a couple of jokes tinker with statistics (including a fantastic rapid-fire rant about Facebook response times), and a great rumination on the nature of Americans: “we’re raised on blind optimism and hydrogenated corn products.”
Wieroniey’s delivery wavers between two styles: charmingly awkward (where pregnant pauses and wary eyes carry as much comedy as her monologue), and charmingly motormouthed (where facts and figures spill from her like an unstoppable torrent, only to be punctuated with a flourish worthy of a mike-drop). Either way, she exudes confidence: even the front-table fuckwits couldn’t knock her off her game, despite their discussion of her stage-worthiness.
I really enjoyed An American’s Guide to being like totally British, even if it didn’t really deliver on its title: Alexis Wieroniey proved to be a quality comedian who has no qualms belittling herself for the audience’s benefit. A tempered confidence in both her material and delivery shines through, giving her a charm that’s great to watch… I only wish she had a better audience to work with.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 7, 2014