What the **** is Normal Anyway?

Sat 3rd – Sat 17th November 2012


Haf Davies

at 07:40 on 4th Nov 2012



Self-deprecating humour seems to be the theme of the night, starting with the supporting act, David Jordan. His brief set of witty songs is punctuated with self-effacing ‘fat jokes’, and the comic lyrics and delivery are subtly supported by a great voice. Although perhaps over-scripted at times, David Jordan certainly gets the audience chuckling and the atmosphere ready for the main event.

Francesca Martinez is indeed ‘wobbly’, but she is also very, very funny. The audience is told about her life, about growing up ‘wobbly’, about being ‘abnormal’ in a society where ‘normality’ is the elusive, destructive ideal. Sat on a chair, under a spotlight, centre stage, her candid humour has the audience charmed, even in the bits when she’s talking about poo. The anecdotal form of the performance creates an instant intimacy, and leads us, laughing, through her happy oblivion as a child, the nightmare of high school and being saved from ‘normality’ by Grange Hill, love and Ricky Gervais. Through her buoyant humour, we learn about the benefits of walking ‘wobbly’ and are asked the important questions: Why on earth is Katie Price a role-model? What do you call the Dalai Lama? Why do we give disabilities such scary names?

That may be the main feat of her act: establishing what is and isn’t scary. Disabilities and differences are not scary, ‘normality’ and politicians are. To focus on her seemingly ‘self-deprecating’ humour is not only simplistic, but inaccurate; it is in fact an empowering celebration of self. Francesca’s lack of inhibition and self-consciousness is more than just funny and refreshing, it is life-affirming. As the joking stories subside, the stage blackens and a spotlight shows us an Irishman in a crinkled white, linen jacket reading a poem aloud, Guinness in hand. The poem, about a person’s last few living moments, emphasises the performance’s more serious message: that life is not meant to be spent pursuing normality.

Francesca Martinez is brilliant, inspiring and hilarious. Calling her performance ‘heart-warming’ may be a cliché, but the walk home wasn‘t as cold as expected.


Zach Lewis

at 09:47 on 4th Nov 2012



To be honest, walking into the theatre, I didn't have much of an expectation. The audience of maybe thirty people was quite reserved, stifling a chuckle or two for the opening act. Their was a very particular tension between everyone; the sort of tension that arises when you hope that your time wasn't better spent staying at home watching The X Factor.

I'm here to tell you that is is most definitely worth your time. As a big fan of stand up comedy, it is rare for me to see performances that are not only hilarious, but also truly make you think. Francesca really has a way of getting her message of normality across in such a comic and sincere manner that it truly is impressive. Talk of sex, politics, poetry, and a few surprises left the audience hysterical, myself included.

One of the nicest things about this show, for me, was the intimacy of the venue. The Pegasus Theatre sat maybe fifty people, which made the show feel so much more personal. It was more as if we were sitting with Francesca having a comedic conversation. She had a way of naturally bringing the audience in, and involving everyone in her act.

As I said, this show makes you think. What is normal? Well Francesca argues that perhaps there is no true normal. Perhaps diversity is much closer to normality than you consider. I won't spoil her argument, but needless to say, there were times when I was touched by what she had to say, and definitely took it to heart.

So, what is the verdict? This show was fantastic. It was hilarious. It was personal. And best of all, it made me leave the theatre more than glad that I had come. So I do urge you, don't stay at home for The X Factor, and please go see Francesca Martinez.


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