It's difficult to tell if Tiff Stevenson is too good at standup, or just too good at everything else now. Breezily dashing off an hour of comedy with a strong central message—around how motherhood is a much broader category of nurture than the act of giving birth—she does little to shake the feeling that the form is a constraint rather than an inspiration. Or is it the pressure valve that supports a much broader cultural and political life?
That's not to say this isn't a satisfying hour of strong jokes – Stevenson can write those in her sleep. In particular, she writes jokes which speak specifically to the experience of women, does so with complete self-awareness, and then sells them, forcefully and winningly, to those to whom the experience does not speak. "Look me in the eye when I'd doing this bit," she says to a guy in the front row, while mid-flow in a routine involving a wrong-size-tampon metaphor. If comedy is to pull people out of their comfort zones, this bit feels like lesson one in that endeavour.
But this isn't a standalone piece of art. Dramatically, it lacks a bit of shape and structure, which is fine – not every Fringe show need be a mini-feature film. But more than that, it frays at the edges. As Stevenson talks to the ridiculous trolling she receives online, we want to hear more from her as a cultural thinker. She talks of her writing and acting and we're intrigued. FWIW, she's also a fantastic musician. This feels like less than the full Tiff. Is it time for this talented performer to fully embrace the triple threat?