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April 9, 2018 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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Phoney Love, Lucy Roche

When we laugh in a comedy show, we laugh hard at those comics that can point out that punchline sitting just out of reach, but we laugh hardest at the comics who point those punchlines out with a voice that is totally their own. Phoney Love has a touch of the former, however, its strength lies with the latter, in the character (or caricature) that Lucy Roche brings on stage.

Phoney Love is about dating on Tinder in the Modern World. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this seems like a topic that most audiences would’ve figured out for themselves. Roche addresses this herself, referring to her set as “the current most hack topic in comedy”. While the self-awareness/deprecation doesn’t do the work Roche might hope it does in getting Phoney Love’s material off of the ground, it does open the door to allow her persona to come through. And therein lies the strength of the set. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great jokes throughout (the statistically-sound approach of asking 100 women “do you do anal” stands out) but these jokes are sprinkled through the audience, rather than giving them a good, heavy dusting. Again, that isn’t to say the material is necessarily bad – just that the subject matter itself is a bit flat. In this particular show, there’s more persona here than storyteller.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Roche’s persona is undeniably captivating. There’s a point about midway, where Roche describes her show (in her characteristic breathy drawl) as “bitching about men for 60 minutes and then hoping a line will of them will form afterwards, asking for her number”. And for the most part, she nails that pitch. Roche herself – all of 5’ nothing – stands during the set dressed in a trim black circle skirt, one Chuck Taylor tucked behind the other, clutching the mic, swaying from side to side. It would be hard not to imagine some fluttering eyelids or thumb sucking mixed in there somewhere, and I have no doubt that this persona is intentional. It is this coquettish first impression which makes lines like “if you stick your dick far enough down my throat you’ll eventually touch my heart,” wallop the audience. She is at her best when she skirts back and forth between the line of sex positivity and pushing the societal standards of indecency, and she’s even better if she does it quickly enough that the audience is one step behind. But unfortunately, there’s just not enough of that in this in this show.

Lucy Roche will return to Wellington for the Wellington Comedy Festival in

Young Dumb & Full Of Comedy. May 1st – 5th.

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