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Fringe Review: Jen Brister - Meaningless @ Monkey Barrel


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Jen Brister delivers her witty, angry and ultimately hilarious take on what it is to be a woman in 2018, in her show ‘Meaningless’.

The show is bold, sarcastic and unapologetic in its exploration of everything ranging from peri-menopausal women and the relationship daughters have with their mothers, to feminism and misogyny in society.

Brister begins her show discussing her relationship with her mother who has recently moved in with her and her young family, much to Brister’s intense resentment. 

Brister’s uncanny ability to adopt different personas is a particular highlight of the show, and her impersonations of her mother are simply wonderful. In a comparison of the relationships between mothers and daughters vs. mothers and sons, her impressions are bang on.

She channels the role of a doting mother complete with a babying voice to reflect a mum’s view of her ‘perfect son’ only to quickly shift to an unimpressed figure of maternal condemnation commenting "you look fat in that" to her imaginary daughter. The comparison is striking and made all the more enjoyable by Brister’s over-exaggerated and theatrical impressions. 

The show is peppered with random outbursts of anger, which initially come as a shock but remain deeply hilarious in the context of the constant judgement she faces as a lesbian mother to twin boys. ‘Well who’s gonna teach them to kick a ball around?’ Brister recites in the voice of an aggressive, unintelligent bigot. Brister pauses sarcastically for a moment, moves her leg forward in a basic kicking motion and quips ‘yep, think I’ve got it’. It’s the refreshing and eye opening voice of a woman who has had enough. 

After tackling amusing issues such as her relationship with her mother and her peri-menopausal state (which Brister refers back to frequently in the show), she moves onto deeper subjects, especially regarding the ingrained misogyny that still exists in society today.

For instance Brister questions the ‘luxury item’ tax that still exists on tampons and wonders why bleeding out of your vagina monthly is considered a luxury. It’s unfiltered, unafraid and simply wonderful.  Brister’s voice is refreshing and relevant and her approach to comedy is a perfect balance of witty sarcasm and uncontrolled rage.

One of the more poignant moments of Brister’s show comes when she questions the importance placed on the elusive ‘thigh-gap’ in the female body and wonders why people care so much about things as trivial as this and so less about the significance of the gender pay gap – a striking and intensely thought provoking comparison that forces us to question why are we so focused on the triviality of the measurements of our body parts and not on our value in society? 

Brister explores both contemporary and eternally relevant issues throughout her show but is careful to explore these without coming across preachy or didactic. She is not there to make the men of the room uncomfortable or place blame but simply to express her views on society within the confines of comedy. It is hilarious and it works. Not one to be missed.

Meaningless is playing at the Monkey Barrel until the 26th, and tickets can be purchased here.

This article is part of our coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Click here to read other articles written by our contributors. 
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