Review: Patti Harrison Is A Comedic Gollum In Scatterbrain Stand-Up Show

Patti Harrison, Soho Theatre ★★★☆☆

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 17 months ago

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Last Updated 03 February 2023

Review: Patti Harrison Is A Comedic Gollum In Scatterbrain Stand-Up Show Patti Harrison, Soho Theatre 3
Pati Harrison performing a karate kick on stage
"A life-sized Bratz doll who comes to life, makes friends with you, then bites your head off." Image: Andrew Levy

Some people venture into Soho for a Joe & the Juice and a Tonkotsu. Others go for the sex shops. Personally, I'm there to see someone air harp to Joanna Newsom while chirping in elfin tones about being done from behind by Steve Bannon.

This highly distasteful — and riotously funny — skit is the absolute highlight of Patti Harrison's Soho Theatre show, a welter of gross-out gags laced with millennial anxieties and the pressing temptation to slice people's brain stems with a pair of boxcutters.

Harrison, if you don't know, is a pretty big deal — appearing in edgy US comedies like Shrill and I Think You Should Leave. She thrives off keeping you on the edge of your seat, flitting capriciously from butter-wouldn't-melt, to 360 degree-revolving-noggin Linda Blair. She is a comedic Gollum — a Bratz doll who comes to life, becomes BFFs with you, then bites off your head. It's a vibe — a hilarious one too.

This particular show — apparently a work in progress, though there's nothing to suggest that in the marketing — is scatterbrain. There are tears-down-cheeks moment, including a 'trigger warning' induction with special effects sponsored by 'Noise Barn', and a demented run-in with a pregnant woman. But such shards of brilliance are glued together with a putty of rambling and note-checking (to Harrison's credit, an early Stuart Little/paedophilia setup ensures that every time she refers to her phone, guffaws ensue).

To paraphrase that old gag about London, this show will be wonderful when it's finished.

Patti Harrison, Soho Theatre, until 18 February