Tessa Coates: Primates

comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Tessa Coates
Published 12 Aug 2017

Having appeared at the Fringe before as part of the sketch troupe Massive Dad, Tessa Coates here performs solos for the first time. It’s a promising debut that evidences how adept she is at mining sex and dating for humour. This means that while she remarks that she has a voice like a character from an Enid Blyton story, this set is often quite filthy. It's her display of British embarrassment that enables her to get away with material that is detailed in its biological specificity.

This interest in the messy matter of mating also arises from her anthropology degree, and it is that course’s content that constitutes the structuring principle of the show. Gags explore the clash between biological evolutionary drives which encourage multiple sex partners, and the cultural norm of monogamy. This enables what is, in essence, a set about the cliche of a young woman bemoaning but overcoming her lack of a partner to be given a particular edge. It's a shame this isn’t pushed further, and that more effective ways of marrying this thesis with her personal experiences are not always in view.

Her sketch show roots also show through in the inclusion of a couple of comedy characters, and these feel out of place in a set that is predominantly personal. She should be more confident in her ability to simply tell stories as herself, given it is these aspects that most convincingly evidence her comic talent.