This review was first published on Fringe Review on the 21 August 2019
This is the Edinburgh Fringe debut show from Saskia Preston, writer for Radio 4’s The Now Show and News Quiz, and 4 Extra’s Newsjack. A family birthday party back in a childhood setting is a trigger for a wander down memory’s estrada. Featuring, smart observations, sharp gags, dark comments, gay bars and needless Portuguese words.
Bringing your first show to The Fringe is a big step, new acts risk much to try and attract the right attention. In this case it can only be a matter of time before that breakthrough comes for Saskia Preston.
Saskia takes to the stage, microphone in hand, to tell us about her trip to a family birthday party. This framing device works to allow her to bring in memories of childhood, relationships, some gender politics and few other insightful and satirical observations on the modern world.
The first thing to note is that Saskia is very, very clever. It stands out like a beacon. Whilst her delivery style is measured and deliberate, there is a keen intellect driving the delivery.
Her smarts come out in the material. There are some very clever punchlines, sharp jokes, puns, wit and plenty of call backs. Social observation is moulded into the structure of the piece. It is well put together and very skilfully delivered, Saskia’s stage presence is that of a more seasoned performer. She has cultivated a very particular manner, that adds a keen edge to her delivery.
Throughout the show the audience laughs, and occasionally winces. It is worth noting there are some quite dark punchlines, which I found to be delicious. It would be easy for some of these to cross the line and become cruel, something I felt she narrowly avoids.
The danger of being a very clever comic is writing jokes with punchlines that scoot over the heads of the audience, which occasionally happens. This may be because of the complexity or subtlety of the joke or as a result of a high gag rate, where thinking about the previous joke can mean that you miss the next one. At times she appeared to be waiting for the audience to catch up, which they did.
A high gag count is driven by having a lot of shorter formed jokes. Not a bad thing, especially when they are as clever and funny as most of these are. It can be difficult to find a balance between this type of joke and telling a longer form anecdote, something that acts as a longer formed framework resulting in a bigger payoff at the end. Given that Saskia is such a skilled writer this balance will change as her career, experience and ability progresses.
Any regular festival goer would conclude that stand-up comedy is dominated by young men, I know I would. With comedian’s as clever, talented and funny as Saskia this balance may change. It is only a matter of time before she becomes a TV Regular and getting tickets to see her show will be more expensive and more difficult. This show is recommended.
This review was first published in Fringe Review on August 21, 2019 by Joe Angella