Comedy review: Janey Godley – Not Dead Yet, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

From anecdotes to voiceover videos, this pugnacious but vulnerable curtain call offered a little bit of everything, writes Jay Richardson

Janey Godley – Not Dead Yet, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh ****

The return of Janey Godley's ovarian cancer has prompted the redoubtable Glaswegian comic to describe Not Dead Yet as probably her final tour, instilling it with a poignancy that even her sweariest outbursts can only enhance. Supported by her daughter and fellow stand-up Ashley Storrie, entertainingly reversing the habit of her career to date and delivering a smattering of material about her “maw”, this is a show that's occasionally deeply sentimental, often mischievous and scathingly angry. The diatribes Godley rasps about the Tories and Michelle Mone in particular are joke-free but palpable in their fury. She is not going gentle into the good night.

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With her prognosis and the invasive treatment she's experienced, Godley is inclined to give even less of a damn than usual about causing offence. Some sharp observations on the contrasting ways men and women use pornography were topped with pitch black thoughts on how she'd imprison workmen as sex slaves. A male comic simply couldn't say the equivalent. But she went beyond the routine's immediate shock and audacity, with dryly witty asides abounding.

Janey Godley PIC: John Devlin/ The ScotsmanJaney Godley PIC: John Devlin/ The Scotsman
Janey Godley PIC: John Devlin/ The Scotsman

She also delivered some classic Godley anecdotes, a term I don't use loosely. The tale of her autistic husband bonding with Prince in Amsterdam is one for the ages, while her mother's vengeance after the schoolgirl Godley was falsely accused of a crime is a roller-coaster of drama and belly-laughs. There was also gallows humour regarding her bond with her late father – an endearing story, never skimping on the gags.

Among her admirers, I'm in the minority when it comes to Godley's voiceover videos, in that I simply don't find them worthy of her storytelling talent. Yet given her relationship with Nicola Sturgeon, there's no denying the intrigue of her take on the First Minister's resignation. And in Not Dead Yet, they're a constituent part of a masterfully structured, varied show. Without wishing to be overly bleak, if this is to be Godley's professional send-off, she has her affairs in order. There's a little bit of everything in this pugnacious but vulnerable curtain call of a performance. And she richly deserved her standing ovation.