Having already seen Ursula Martinez perform her infamous disappearing handkerchief striptease (back when she was part of the cabaret act La Clique), I knew that I would be letting myself in for something both funny and naughty. By funny I mean in the way Martinez allows the audience to laugh at her as well as with her, and by naughty I mean by sprinkling in a little full frontal female nudity. Of course I was sold on this idea alone.
I was so pleased to find that there was so much more to the show than just a few laughs and ‘middle-aged minge’ as she so bluntly puts it. The concept behind My Stories, Your Emails is the reaction to the overnight fame she was awarded after a televised performance of her Hanky Panky act went viral. The show is divided into two halves. In the first half she shares a rather Jimmy Carr-esque reel of jokes and anecdotes with the audience. Some are brilliantly funny (especially the impressions of the people she grew up with) while others are slightly awkward and leave the audience shifting uncomfortably in their chairs.
It was quite a relief when the show was punctuated by the video of the infamous act that was to trigger the reactions featured in the second half of the show.In this section she shares tales of fan mail she’s received from men the world over (together with their photographs) and in reading them out, encourages the audience to laugh along with her at the sheer ludicrousness of their correspondence.
And laugh we did! Every email was read out in the appropriate accent according to the senders’ nationality and the combination of character comedy and images of these ridiculous men meant that there wasn’t a dry pair of undergarments in the room.
In my humble opinion the first half an hour of the show was a bit of a write off. In fact, when going over the details of the performance in my head, it’s only really the odd joke that stands out in my memory. In fact, I could happily have sat and listened to the fan mail for the full hour and been equally as impressed. As it is, I’m struggling to remember the real purpose of the ‘My Stories’ section, witty though they were.
That being said, my partner and I left the Purcell Room in London’s Southbank Centre still giggling and thrilled with what we’d just seen. This is the kind of comedy that can come only come from the absurdity of real life, you couldn’t possibly make it up. At times it was ridiculous, incredulous but always (shockingly enough) 100% real. This is how Martinez brings her unique form of comedy; through real life – in ALL its naked glory.