Joanna Neary does Animals and Men.
Leicester Comedy Festival, February 2017.
Joanna Neary's show is a breath of fresh comedy air buried deep in the festival schedules. With just the one performance of this show, (same slot tomorrow but different material) she is presumably either trying out various things to put together a full show, or simply using and enjoying the experience of performing. Either way this too-short hour gave us a brief but utterly hilarious insight into the mind and world of an outstanding natural comedy talent with a masterful control of her audience and the ability to deliver superbly-constructed material with deft timing and brilliantly-crafted character-play.
The majority of Neary's show could loosely be described as character-comedy, with some relateable creations in amongst the more extreme. Heavily identified by strong combinations of both accent and mannerisms, each one of her personas delighted this early Saturday evening festival crowd which, while not packing out the venue had certainly made for a decent-sized audience. The A-to-Z structure of the show's narrative was the only cliched thing about her set and may belie a slightly naïve approach to writing. But this would only be interpreted negatively if her material were to be sub-standard, and fortunately nothing could be further from the case as, in short, she gives truth to the idea that an audience will forgive absolutely anything if it is funny enough. This performer was better than her venue, and despite clearly being some kind of unfinished work-in-progress for her this was no try-out session for new or untested material but rather an opportunity for her to inhabit her comedy creations and double-check which areas worked best.
Judging by the applause and delight of the audience it pretty much all worked best, so hopefully she will have been highly satisfied with her evening's work on this occasion. Also of note were the moments when she was not in character but just being herself. Although this tended to amount to a housekeeping element of just linking the rehearsed bits together and apologising for mistakes this woman is still extremely funny without a character to play, and perhaps this is something she might develop with great effect, perhaps as a dramatic juxtaposition to those on-stage characters. Far from being a criticism though, this obvious innate funniness is the secret backbone of her charisma and appeal, and it is difficult to see how this wouldn't translate into her being as successful as she wants to be.