Comedy review: Jen Brister: Under Privilege, Monkey Barrel, Edinburgh

Jen Brister has found a potent groove in her combustible angst of being a lesbian struggling to raise socially aware, four-year-old twin boys.

Jen Brister  Under Privilege, Monkey Barrel Comedy (Venue 515)
Jen Brister  Under Privilege, Monkey Barrel Comedy (Venue 515)
Jen Brister Under Privilege, Monkey Barrel Comedy (Venue 515)

Jen Brister: Under Privilege, Monkey Barrel, Edinburgh * * * *

Building on her barnstorming hour of last year and forthcoming book on the subject, the comic rails against the privilege her darlings enjoy. Through her fury may be amped up for effect, it's borne from genuine unease about the signs they show of becoming the next Toby Jones, with Brister and her wife cast as suicidal servants, waiting on their obnoxious Little Lord Fauntleroys hand and foot.

Hide Ad

She can't fully banish the reasonable protest that they have time on their side to ensure the wokeness of their sons, currently differentiated as the chauvinist and the misogynist. But Brister is over being reasonable. There's too much negotiating with entitled patriarchy in her life already. Crossing fingers that her children turn out gay, she looms into the crowd, reassuring the straight, white men in the audience that they are the absolute worst kind of people.

Read More
Edinburgh Fringe 2019: The Scotsman critics' best comedy shows to see this year

Notwithstanding a couple of hilarious cracks at the expense of Peppa Pig, what sets this show apart from its equally strong predecessor, is that having broken down her sons' privilege, she then deconstructs her own. Putting her on the back foot for once, as a gay woman with a tinge of beige, she knows that despite this, she still enjoys plenty of advantages, including the false modesty of failing to acknowledge her physical attractiveness. Driven home to her by her director, it nevertheless transpires that this is yet another damning indictment of boorish masculinity.

Brister can rather play to the (masochistic) gallery by hectoring it for its liberal, middle-class hand-wringing. A section on Dubai's human slavery comes across as indiscriminate muck-spreading, starkly contrasting her pointed attack on Jones. But she's deeply self-critical too. And her abiding message, that minority rights which need to be repeatedly fought for are not meaningful rights at all, is well made.

Until 25 August

Jay Richardson