Edinburgh Fringe Review: Viv Groskop, The Stand 4

Viv Groskop

***

I don’t really know journalist Viv Groskop but I do know her writing. It is sharp, funny and well-observed. In recent years she has been developing another string to her bow, adding stand-up comedy to her CV. In fact she combined both areas in her enjoyable book about doing 100 gigs in 100 days.

In her new show Say Sorry to the Lady Groskop explores the great English obsession with apologising. In her intro she explains how she is as guilty as anyone of doing this. Saying sorry is like an English form of Tourettes, blurting it out after every minor incident.

As she warms up there is also an intriguing section about her quest for her European roots. Groskop grew up in Somerset where the name must have stuck out like a sore thumb. She dreamt of being Jewish and exotic but instead was just burdened with a surname that meant “big head”.

So far so funny, but then she gets to the meat of the show in which she reads out apologies audience members have written on card at the start of the show (I presume at the start anyway – I had to make my own apology when I walked in a couple of minutes late). 

The success of the show really depends on these apologies being zingers and the appointed public ‘jury’ doing their bit and passing judgment on them. On the night I was in the chief juror was genial but not quite on the same songsheet and let the side down a bit.

Apologies – anonymous – ranged from the person who apologised for going on the Ashley Madison affairs website thinking it was a legal firm, to the person who apologised to his wife just for being married to her. Groskop handled the discussion about these with quick wit and a flirty smile. On a better night I’m sure she would have generated a more heated comic debate.

On this occasion the audience contributions slowed the show down. Groskop was far better without them, dissecting the underlying meaning of Baccara’s 1970s hit Sorry I’m A Lady or recalling the awful, but hilarious, things her children had said in public, bringing shame on the Groskop name.

The result is a show that ends on a singalong (joining in is optional) and is never less than good fun, but does not quite play to Groskop’s strengths. She is so interesting when she talks about her family I’d have liked to have seen a whole show about her quest for her origins. Or even a whole show about the embarrassing things her children say. But Say Sorry to the Lady is certainly an engaging and light-hearted hour, which sends the audience away happy. Groskop does not need to apologise for anything here.

Until Aug 30. Tickets here.

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