DeAnne Smith wants to have a relationship with you. But unfortunately, I have to be involved too, along with a whole room full of other people. And it will last about 60 minutes. She isn’t sure it will end well, but she will make sure it seems good during the middle.
So lets kick off. Meet stand up comedian DeAnne Smith. You may not have heard of her yet, but DeAnne is already hugely successful in Australia, Canada and the US. She is making her Edinburgh Fringe debut with her new stand up show The Best DeAnne Smith DeAnne Smith can be.
Smith is obviously a polished and highly accomplished performer. She uses the relationship arc to top and tail her show, introducing us to the DeAnne Smith that is a bit worried – no actually neurotically worried – about some of the tiny details of life. As she muses, she occasionally sings and plays a ukelele as jokes tumble out effortlessly out of her mouth.
The highlight of the show must surely be her ‘Six and a half minutes of bonus hilarity’ which is an excuse to show off her considerable improv talent. Throwing open the room to anyone who wants to adlib and chatter to her, she invites ‘contributions’ from the audience. Admittedly she has a gift in a young Aussie at the front who has pitched up a little drunk, wearing a complete parody of a Scottish outfit with kilt and sporran. Smith hauls the chap on stage to have a bit of fun with which makes for some easy laughs. But other banter and audience play shows off Smith’s razor sharp and lightening quick wit.
If she thinks a joke has fallen bit flat she smiles and says ‘oh, that didn’t go down so well here?’ – that little verbal trick plays well, gets another laugh and charms the pants off us all.
Unlike some gay comics, who use their sexuality to make in jokes with gay audiences, Smith turns this on its head, using her lesbianism to make her set as universal as possible.
In a particularly funny description of what she considered to be a fairly boring trip to a museum with her girlfriend, Smith admits she really only agreed to go along because she thought she might get sex later. She illustrates the joke with a little verbal wink colluding with the men in the audience with “you know what I am talking about men right?”. All this is wonderfully subversive. The man behind me laughed hard, then stopped to think, then laughed again – realising the real joke.
Smith also enjoys a bit of playful flirting with the women in the audience. She occasionally but very gently flirts with the straight women in the front row. All this is very safe and non-threatening. At one point Smith exclaims; ‘Oh she winked back at me!”, perhaps not something a straight male comic would always be able to get away with.
The comparison between Smith and Ellen Degeneres is an obvious and perhaps a bit of a lazy one. Both are openly lesbian and Smith has a bit of the Ellen easy charm and self deprecating style. But there is something of a sharper and darker edge to Smith’s jokes that sets her apart.
At which point, we need to end the relationship, and the set. Although she is not sure how it will end, she ends it in spectacular fashion. Ill leave you to find out what that is!
All this works surprisingly and wonderfully well and is a tightly packed set. Smith must surely be one of the key comedy breakthrough acts playing in Edinburgh this year and will hit the heights in the UK very soon. If you are at the Fringe, be sure to catch her show. Otherwise, look out for her on a stage or TV set near you very soon.
DeAnne Smith in The Best DeAnne Smith DeAnne Smith Can Be was playing at the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh.
Her website is http://www.deannesmith.com and Twitter: @DeAnne_Smith