Iliza Shlesinger: Fluent in English
- Jay Richardson
- 9 November 2018
US comic with forthright and funny musings on feminism, weddings and Bake Off
Iliza Shlesinger provoked controversy last year when she claimed that other female comics went for 'low hanging fruit' in their jokes and tried to 'act like a guy'. And she began this evening by protesting the need for some feminists to support every woman unconditionally, regardless of merit, conveying the drawling, insidious bitchiness of Californian women as they affect to support one another.
With her forthright attitude and claim to be an 'elder millennial' (the title of her current Netflix special), just squeaking into that generation bracket by the skin of her teeth, the 35-year-old Texan established a strong connection with tonight's mostly young crowd. Equally impressive was her devoting Fluent in English to a single topic – her wedding this year – keeping gender roles and stereotypes always in her sights.
Rejecting traditions such as the bride wearing a garter and veil and throwing her bouquet to the single female guests, Shlesinger capably highlighted the ancient nonsense and prevailing sexism of such practices, before driving them to cartoonish extremes with animated act-outs of grotesque phantom brides and kill-or-be-killed scrambles for the flower toss.
Not all of her cultural references translated smoothly, but she earned respect for her efforts at a Scottish accent and curiosity about local phenomenon, while her analysis of The Great British Bake Off was elevated by her clear delight in it. Some of her physical recreations and outspoken assertions have more style than hard-rooted observational substance, but she bulldozes resistance with her self-belief and animated commitment. Her depiction of the horror of a bachelorette party, likened to Game of Thrones' White Walker zombie hordes is a memorable case in point. Shlesinger hasn't exactly charmed the UK since her 2015 debut here. But without overly tempering her opinions, she now seems a force to be reckoned with.
Iliza Shlesinger: Fluent in English is on tour until Tuesday 13 November. Seen at Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh.