The first thing I wonder whenever I go to see a comedian is “Were they funny??”
If I have to think about it, they’ve failed. Thankfully, Urzila Carlson is funny. She delivers culturally relevant, interesting and frank humour, making fun of mothers, children, lesbians, vegans and a midwife named Debbie. But it is done without malice; Carlson has something nice to say about everyone, even the most unpleasant people imaginable.
Despite her plain-spoken style, there is a depth to her ideas – her show’s premise is the noble goal of making the world a nicer place, and she has some pretty persuasive suggestions on how that could be done. That being said, she takes an organic approach to her performance, happy to go off on tangents that are loosely related to the wider theme.
There are problems, though. The title, Poise Control, is a little confusing, even when she’s explained it (but we were assured it has nothing to do with feminine hygiene products). It’s slow to start, appearing more like a loosely scripted ramble through Urzila’s pet peeves than any sort of planned routine. While this sorts itself out as the larger ideas emerge, it doesn’t get rid of the other major flaw – Urzila Carlson plays it relatively safe. The content is well-used comedy fodder; being fat, bad coffee, strange fashions, the battle of the sexes, the cute things kids do, and so on, and so on. Her life presents so many possibilities for material: a South African living in New Zealand with her wife and kid can surely find something pretty original to talk about.
I give her a seven out of ten. Urzila Carlson is culturally relevant, plain-spoken and frank. Also to like is that she has a nice word for everyone, even those who’ve been truly obnoxious to her. She just needs a bit more risk to her material; a hint of something new, different, original.
And, of course, she is funny.
Urzila Carlson’s Poise Control plays until the 19th April at the Greek Centre. Tickets are $20-$30, get them online or at the door.