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American Cougar of Comedy – Free

Monday, 13 September, 2010

Edinburgh Fringe 2010 – Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters – 5-29 August 10 – 19:15 (1:00)

Sandra Risser wanders on stage from the back of the room, and for a moment it feels like she’s going to ask us if we can spare some change, she stretches a shaking hand towards the microphone and struggles to remove it from it’s stand.   I check the flyer I was handed on my way in no this isn’t  AA it’s the American Cougar of Comedy, a comedy show with a difference.

The difference is Sandra Risser, the cougar herself, she’s 69, has smoked a lot of pot in her day, has a husband 15 years her junior, has the shakes and because she’s a stand-up kinda gal speaks frankly about her sex-life and the breasts of her friends.

As I watch Sandra Risser hand out small pieces of paper and pencils and explain in the dullest drawn out manner that she wants us to ask any question we like and she’ll answer it. My heart sinks as I realise that this lady has all the charisma of a used tea-bag and is about as verbose.

The first portion of the show is stock material, a series of worn out unfunny jokes which seem designed to shock but which fail in the attempt. There is something about the delivery which sticks in the craw, a smugness about the performer and as I write my question onto the piece of paper in front of me I plan a particularly tricky question, with mischief in my heart

As the show moves from set piece to improvisation, something happens excitement builds as the audience realise that all the insane questions they have asked are now about to be answered by a 69 year old who prefaces almost every sentence with ‘The thing about being a woman who likes younger men is…’ and who regularly riffs on the difficulties of being a 19 year old cougar – i.e. she had to touch young boys.

The excitement is now palpable. The potential for cringe-worthy moments of excruciating embarrassment is so high it’s like being back at school and watching your parents walk into your classroom a start talking to your teacher about you know not what. It impossible to know what the next 40 mins will contain, and as Sandra Risser starts to mumble her way through a mixture of set material and difficult questions I start to laugh.

In her faltering grasp material which would seem flat, run of the mill and downright boring in the hands of a younger woman is elevated into something which has that car crash appeal which makes you turn you head.

As the questions are drawn out of the hat, I look around at the audience trying to gauge the level of question the audience will ask – I’m not disappointed.  Go see this show because you will not forget that hour you spent sinking into your seat, cringing and crying with laughter.

(c) Stephen Redman 2010

reviewed Friday 20 August 2010 / Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters, Edinburgh UK

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