Susan Calman: The Calman Before the Storm
- Brian Donaldson
- 30 March 2017
Trivia and gossip fare better in the Scottish comic's current tour than gags and substance
Susan Calman has gone from being one of the sharpest comperes on the Scottish stand-up circuit to a familiar face and voice on various BBC productions. With her latest touring show, The Calman Before the Storm, she's trying to find a path through her confused status as a Radio 4 staple who is less polite than her listening public would dare to believe and a social climber trying to blend into her new higher-echelon neighbourhood without making an arse of herself. It all makes for an equally muddled and patchy two-part show which scores well on likeability but largely fails to make points with punchlines.
Starting with largely unmemorable riffs on Trump and Brexit, Calman nimbly bolts through some of her own déjà vu topics (cats, Helen Mirren, internet trolls), taking the room's temperature on how authentic she sounds within the Scottish celebrity firmament and portraying her wife as a vaguely unhinged foil teasing out Calman's less savoury instincts.
This is generally a much lighter affair than the superior Lady Like. That show delved into her own personal demons with a vulnerable wit which is often masked here amid a swathe of trivia and gossip. The tweeting Calman encourages her audience to undertake during the interval is intended to provide the comic with gems about daily acts of kindness. But rather than run with any notion of a theme, it seems to act merely as a device to make her transition between the show's halves less clunky. As Calman has already shown, she is more than capable of writing a great show. Whenever she looks back on her career, The Calman Before the Storm won't be viewed as an especially high bar, but hopefully has acted as a bridge that sets her off into more daring territory.
Susan Calman: The Calman Before the Storm is on tour until Sun 15 Oct; seen at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.