Reviewer: Clare White
Popular comedian and self-confessed ‘cat mam’ Sarah Millican brings her wickedly funny new stand-up show to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall this year. The 41-year old from South Shields is currently in the middle of a huge UK tour, which may well be her best yet. Since winning the Best Newcomer Award for her debut show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008, Millican has fronted her own television chat show, appeared on numerous comedy shows and completed three sell-out national tours (Outsider is her fourth).
For the first of her two consecutive nights in Birmingham, Millican comes on first to introduce her support act Tom Allen, which is an unusual but a lovely touch. A sharp-tongued raconteur, Allen does a great job of warming up the Midlands audience.
Millican herself is as charming as she is crude. With her gentle delivery style and domestic-themed comedy, she’s like a potty-mouthed best friend who likes to over-share. And over-share she does, about everything, from flatulence to sexual adventures with Lambrusco. Her anecdotes of cohabiting and cats are hilariously well-observed and dramatic constructs of the perils of IBS, dog poo bags and bath bombs are luridly truthful and so so funny. (“When I have a bath, it just has to be me and the water… anything else just makes downstairs red RAW.”) Having recently settled in the countryside, she’s also learnt that robins don’t just appear at Christmas and that rabbits can’t swim but is still unable to tell the difference between an owl hoot and her husband’s asthma.
Millican invites the audience to share ‘the best thing you’ve seen in nature’. Since we’re all friends here and over-sharing clearly isn’t an issue, experiences of wild boars, whales and duck sex are shouted out. While Millican clearly enjoys the audience participation, it flatters slightly as voices without microphones don’t carry well in this large venue.
In the second half, she shifts gear slightly, sharing her experiences of body confidence issues, self-esteem and bullying, including a brilliant tale of revenge on a particular acquaintance who had made her school life miserable.
While the anatomical references are graphic and the poo jokes plentiful, there is also an uplifting theme of embracing flaws and feeling comfortable in your own skin. That’s the genius thing about Millican, she picks up on the everyday insecurities and quirks we all have and isn’t afraid to share them with eye-popping honesty and four letter swear bombs in a room of 2000 people. She’s warm, witty and totally relatable, and the audience is laughing, not just because it’s clever comedy, but because the mishaps and mayhem resonate so well. Fabulously funny entertainment
Runs until 17 July 2016 and on tour | Image: Contributed