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Alison Spittle: Worrier Princess | Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018

Alison Spittle: Worrier Princess
Alison Spittle: Worrier Princess

Alison Spittle has such a good-spirited nature that it’s nothing short of infectious. As far as I recall, Worrier Princess wasn’t a title fully explained during the show, but that didn’t stop Spittle eliciting an ‘aww, bless’ sort of response – and not in a patronising way, either. A mother and her son in the row behind mine guffawed at a punchline, as you do, and Spittle interrupted herself to express thanks to them for what seemed to me to be a typical response.

Then again, this isn’t a typical stand-up routine. The term “fat bitch” occurs uncomfortably often, because it is a putdown frequently projected at Spittle, who once shouted it back at someone who took an opposing view regarding the referendum to determine whether Ireland’s eighth amendment to the country’s constitution should be repealed. The two stood in a public place shouting the same insult at one another for several minutes. “Imagine if tourists walked past,” mused Spittle. Imagine if anyone walked past, for that matter.

Spittle has written a television series which aired on RTÉ, the Irish broadcaster. The expressions of glee that accompanied such a statement would sound smug coming from almost anyone else; here, there’s just a straightforward and palpable acknowledgement regarding this breakthrough in career progression (though Spittle would probably never call it that), and the audience feels it wants to celebrate her triumphs with her.

As ever with someone based in a place with regional phrases, there are words to discover. ‘Shift’ is the Irish term for ‘snog’, and the stories of what went on with regards to shifts in Spittle’s youth are delightful. There was the first time she met a celebrity crush, with all the odd feelings and garbled speech that accompanies such a meeting, and some discussion about Ouija boards – the use of which, being of tender years when she indulged in the practice, left her spooked.

There’s nothing new, as I’m discovering seeing various comedy acts at the Edinburgh Fringe, about a comedian seeking some form of professional help with their mental health. But Spittle isn’t going for the punchlines, or whatever apparent peculiarities her therapist may have. Instead, she’s just happy she’s now in a position to be able to afford the assistance she desires, underlining her joy at getting her television show commissioned. A narrative that could be the source of dark humour is instead kept light-hearted.

Her own laughter demonstrates how much she is enjoying herself on stage, which is good to see. Her response to a distant relation slating her on social media is, well, unique. An engaging manner and good rapport with the audience make up for the lack of a set of personal worries that the show’s title might suggest.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Rapidly becoming a household name in her native Ireland, Alison Spittle, who is one of the most vibrant voices in Irish comedy, is back in Edinburgh this year with her new show, Worrier Princess.

You know when you’re going on holidays and go to the gym beforehand to get yourself ‘beach ready’ because society tells you to? Last year, Alison Spittle’s comedy series, Nowhere Fast, was about to make its television debut and she decided to visit a therapist to build a thicker skin and brace herself for the inevitable “onslaught of pr**ks on the internet”.

The stories she told in these therapy sessions form the basis Worrier Princess. With her trademark wit and absurdist bent, Spittle navigates topics like anxiety, religion, female sexuality, misogyny, and more.

Twitter: @AlisonSpittle

Lisa Richards Agency
ALISON SPITTLE: Worrier Princess
Balcony, Gilded Balloon
August 1 – 27 (not 14), 5.15pm


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