Review: Jen Brister: Under Privilege

Animated and self-aware set about the joy and tedium of raising children

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Jen Brister
Photo by Idil Sukan
Published 13 Aug 2019

The uncertain future of an unstable world will naturally lead to existential crises and a serious consideration of whether children should be brought into the world, and so how they should be raised. Jen Brister is discussing motherhood at this year’s festival. In her own way she’s made a slick comedy show, taking on society's problems and discussing her own role as a parent as part of that big picture. In short, how can she avoid raising "two little bellends"?

Under Privilege is sentimental in small doses. Brister is honest about the challenge of raising kids, from the boring repetition of stints at the playpark, the claustrophobic nature of taking a holiday, to the lack of stimulating conversation ("we have nothing in common", is how she boils it down). There’s love in this show, but Brister also considers what happens when children are raised to do whatever they want without fear of consequences. Or indeed when adults (mostly rich, white men) are bailed out of tricky situations by wealthy parents. An attack on Toby Young might be classifiable as shooting "evil looking Heston Blumenthal lookalikes" in a barrel, but Brister is spot on with it. 

Brister, a gay woman, turns it back on herself, considering the middle-class luxuries she’s afforded even in a white man’s world. This is the joy of Under Privilege. Brister’s conscious the festival is an echo chamber. She isn’t afraid to be confrontational with us and knows there's no value in low-hanging fruit. Self-aware and whip smart, this is a commanding, authoritative hour.