Self-deprecation is an oft-used tone for comedians, some of whom forever try to make themselves the butt of the joke and endear themselves to their audience. Jena Friedman takes this to a whole new level with the name of her show alone. "I'm aware that there's a very offensive word in the title," she begins. Wait for it: "American".
That indicates a level of transatlantic self-awareness largely absent from the material itself, but it is fittingly daring given the black humour she purveys. She's teeming with prickly quips but, unlike many before her, there's a smart undercurrent to her cutting bravado. So, beneath the 9/11 jokes there's sterling commentary on femininity and cultural identity. It's all enveloped in barbed retorts, of course, but there's still intriguing social critique lurking below the surface.
The New York comic has written for Letterman and curently serves as a producer on The Daily Show, so she's not a newbie to the industry. Despite this the show is, by her own admission, still a work in progress, and the fabric of her routines is a little disjointed at times. Without the fluency that comes with a polished structure, she doesn't quite achieve as much as she could have. There are sufficient snort-inducing gags to render that less of an issue, though. She's restricted herself to a fairly niche market in terms of substance, but her style is such that her appeal stretches much further.