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Angela Barnes: Hot Mess – Pleasance Courtyard

This is how a comedy hour at the Edinburgh Fringe should be: full of energy with lots of engaging stories and punchlines, briskly told. If it’s so brisk that Angela Barnes very, very occasionally gets tongue-tied, that’s absolutely fine, especially if yet another joke is spun directly out of the mangled words themselves. It gets a little more political (in the parliamentary sense) than some people would like, though in hindsight, Barnes’ views, passionately held as they are, are mainstream, and not just because she was repeatedly referred to by a good friend as “TV’s Angela Barnes” – it’s all very genuine.

Angela Barnes: Hot MessBarnes wanted everyone to know about this good friend, a fellow comedian, Phil Jerrod (1979-2021), who had sarcoma, a form of cancer. Jerrod had supported Barnes on various tours and the impact of his loss was palpable as she paid tribute to him. There’s the inevitable yarn about what she got up to (or didn’t) during the lockdowns, though she does at least explain why she’s chosen to include it in her show. She has a better reason than most Fringe comics, having been proposed to days after the first lockdown was imposed. It sounds ridiculous now, but I suppose her significant other didn’t feel there was anything to lose.

She’s also one of the relatively few Fringe comedians to receive a diagnosis of ADHD in the last couple of years by someone other than themselves. This show, she says, was meant to be about that, but because she really does have ADHD (as verified by medical professionals), she got distracted and it became a story about wedding plans and things that got on her nerves, and the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Her recollection of her search for a wedding dress, not exactly being an impressionable twenty-something, brought the house down – some bridal shops are very bizarre in their choice of vocabulary. It’s not quite Mock The Week does Say Yes to the Dress – indeed, it’s better. It says something that her love for beer was so enthusiastic I felt compelled to buy an overpriced pint at the Pleasance Courtyard bar immediately afterwards. I can’t say for certain what Phil Jerrod would make of that, but I doubt he’d be disappointed. An invigorating and delightful show.

5 Star Rating

Review by Chris Omaweng

Hot mess definition: a disorganised, disheveled, or self-destructive person

In 2021, stand up comedian Angela Barnes was diagnosed with ADHD, or she prefers to put it “I’m a clinical hot mess”. She’s always felt like a round peg in a square hole, but now she knows why and her chaotic life is starting to make some sense. But this hot mess is starting to get it together and live her best life, just as the global mess is really heating up. Personal and topical stand up and stories from a slightly neurowonky point of view.

Angela Barnes
Hot Mess
Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2022
Pleasance, Cabaret Bar 7pm 3-28 August

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