Having read the novel Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd, your reviewer was a little apprehensive on descending into the undercroft of St George’s Church in Bloomsbury. This massive 18th century pile, topped with a Masonic pyramid, was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, who is said to have practised black magic and even to have buried a human sacrifice in its foundations. But the Museum of Comedy, which is now housed below the church, is by no means gloomy and forbidding. Adorned with numerous comedic memorabilia, it is a pleasant venue to sit and have a drink, and browse through its extensive book collection. There is also a small auditorium, and that is where the American stand-up comédienne, Carmen Lynch, gave the audience last night a preview of the act which she is taking to the Edinburgh Festival.
Gloomy and forbidding? Well, in a way that is the persona adopted by Miss Lynch as she wrings black humour out of the embarrassment, anxiety and general malaise of the human condition. Unsparing of herself, she catalogues her misadventures with friends, relations and lovers, and does not shrink from using good old Anglo-Saxon words for the body parts and functions involved. She also uses good old customary weights and measures, but having landed in Europe, she feels constrained to give (inaccurate) equivalents in kilos and metres. No need, Carmen – we are leaving Europe, after all !
Quintessentially American, indeed a New Yorker, Miss Lynch understandably focuses on some aspects of American life in her show, such as the obsession with therapy. But human foibles are fair game, whatever the culture. This is not a show to take your maiden aunt to. But for a cynical take on life in general, and relationships in particular, Miss Lynch is your woman. She will surely go down well in Edinburgh.