Last Saturday comedian Simone Belshaw performed her final show at the Museum of Comedy before she quit stand-up comedy for good. The title of the show is of course a nod to comedian Hannah Gadsby’s ‘final’ show Nanette in which Gadsby announced she was quitting comedy. However the show was such a smash hit Gadsby’s career went from strength to strength and instead of quitting, a follow up show, Douglas, was written and toured.
The show opened with Belshaw lying on the stage wrapped in a trashbag, as a recording of Gadsby played over and over again “I have to quit comedy”, a single tear trickled down Belshaw’s cheek. Apparently this was simply a reaction to the stage lights in her eyes but it was bloody dramatic all the same. Then, as music blasted, Belshaw ripped apart her plastic prison, reached for one of the two glasses of rosé on her prop table and thus began her final stand-up performance.
A few years ago I described Belshaw as “brilliantly offbeat”, maybe it’s because it was her last show and Belshaw had nothing to lose, but Nanette or Die Trying saw Belshaw truly march to the beat of her own drum. From demanding the audience boo her as she prowled the stage pro-wrestler style to punctuating routines with quirks and mad flourishes that is rarely seen from women in comedy.
Packed with excellently observed analysis of various cliches, such as new fathers comments on the state of their partner’s vagina, egg donation and society’s views of female sexuality which culminated in an enjoyable ridiculous interpretation of what WAP stands for, Belshaw has become expert at expressing sharp criticism through a surreal lens.
Nanette or Die Trying was deliciously weird, without ever crossing the line from comedy into performance art, sadly it won’t share the Lazurus effect Gadsby’s show enjoyed as Belshaw’s health means performing in comedy spaces is too risky. I hope to see Belshaw’s comedic talents directed towards writing and comedy shorts in future. So, with great regret, one last time I offer Belshaw the stand-comedian the requested: BOOOOOOOO, HISSSSSS.
You can follow Simone Belshaw on Twitter