Iszi Lawrence’s Wotnot
The Strand, Edinburgh Fringe Festival
22 August 2012
A show packed with ideas but performed in a way that you are tickled rather than pummelled with them.
Crumbs! Where to start with Iszi Lawrence’s Wotnot?
First of all a big chunk of lovely respect to Iszi for getting a website that is just her first name – www.iszi.com – well done to her. All the famous Willows (The dwarf, Buffy’s mate, the teen singing sensation, the tree, the bird, the chinese plate) beat me to it. I would have had to have logged onto 1-2-3-reg in about 1984, aged 2 to have had a chance to register that that one. I digress.
Iszi Lawrence says Wotnot is the name for her ladybits which may well be true but really it refers to a wild array of comedy angles, heatfelt and hilarious stories and surrealist pop culture fantasy.ÃÂ Cumberbatch, Chemistry Teachers, Rickman and Firth are all floating in the mix and the stories visably tug at the heart (and other) strings of the audience.
I will say at this point that the age range in the audience is very wide. There are two women down the fron in their 60’s on the same row as some 20-something sci-fi geeks. Behind them is a young girl with her open minded / slightly-winging-it-taking-her-daughter-to-alternative-comedy mum. Now, there’s another show at the fringe about what advice you would give if you could go back and do so to your child self. This 14 year old gets an absoulte masterclass in how (not) to deal with having a crush on your teacher.
I say she’s 14, I’m doing that because thats the age limit on the show and I don’t want to get the venue into trouble – she may have been very slightly younger. In any case, It was up to her mum. Remember when Princess Diana took the 12 year old Prince Harry to see Basic Instinct – in the days before the 12A was invented. Well it’s like that. But Iszi Lawrence’s Wotnot is a lot more entertaining than Sharon Stone’s Wotnot.
And there is really nothing in this show that is offensive to a young teenager. Although the young girl may now legitimately ask – “Mummy whats cum? , What’s the c-word? , Why does Iszi Lawrence call her breasts Penn and Teller? (You will have to go to the show for the answer to that one. But I can tell you it is surreal and glorious and leaves you with an “I watched weird comedy on Channel 4 in the ’90’s sense of superiority.”)
Pop-culture and geekery are great territory for Iszi who, although you can’t tell from the shows poster, was born in the 1980’s. There are plenty of references for all ages to get, including the sci-fi geeks in the front row.
Iszi even events a Bruce Forsyth-style salute for the uber-geeky Doctor Who or Star Wars gags. The show is also rich with exploring ideas of class and politics in the UK, exposing truths about the way we are with incredible dexterity.
Jokes about her home town of Oxford’s crushing poshness, carnage and censorship on Spingwatch and Richard Dawkin’s Dog completely hit the mark. She has a way with metaphor that’s delicious, meticulous and elegant. The comedy is precise with nothing mis-placed as Iszi Lawrence creates running jokes which you forget about and then come back to slap you in the face with pure delight 30 minutes later.
There’s a good dose of self-deprication but like with all great comedians it isn’t overdone and she doesn’t take herself or the medium of comedy too seriously. I really want to tell you one of the jokes at this point but I can’t.
What I can tell you is that at least 6 of the lines in Iszi Lawrence’s Wotnot could have won the Best-Joke-of-the-Fringe prize, they are that funny and that well crafted that they work on the page as well as they do in the room. The show is so dense with ideas but also subtle, whispering them all to you not pummelling you with them. Very sophisticated yet not highbrow and unconventionally sassy.
Don’t say Tour-de-force, Don’t say Tour-de-force, Don’t say Tour-de-force.
OK, This is my first direct mention of this point in the review: Iszi Lawrence is a woman. (There have been lots of clues).ÃÂ There are funny women comics. Miranda Hart is one. She has a sit-com on the BBC that is very good.
Iszi Lawrence’s would be even funnier, but until then see her at the Stand 2 in Ediburgh until Sunday 26th August and then at other venues when she plays at them. You can check www.iszi.com for details.