Review: Bitch Slapped By My Moon Cup

Image credit: Andrew Dunn

Callie Vandewiele is proof that an unusual personal history can lead to funny, relatable observations, with topics ranging from navigating her early 30s, family, dating, student accommodation and more.

Introduced by newcomer comedian, Cansu Karabiyak, who delivered a confident set about asking dumb questions -- answered, quite unexpectedly, by audience members, because this is Cambridge after all -- and the trouble of being too offensive for said genteel Cambridge audiences, the general air of the night was irreverent and cheeky. As Cansu’s set wrapped, we were encouraged to cheer for Callie’s entrance like we were “cheering for a stripper about to take her bra off”: a delightful contrast with Callie’s conservative upbringing we would come to learn, wherein a tank top would be considered far too revealing.

Callie was raised Mormon in the US by an anarchist mormon mother who believes that “structure destroys the human mind,” a family dynamic that played an integral role in her set. Being raised in this context meant she missed out on many cultural references (such as learning about Michael Jackson only after he died), yet she somehow still managed to fall in love with the Harry Potter series -- an obsession shared by her (self-professed) “crazy” family, leading to their appreciation for her life at Cambridge for, perhaps, all the wrong reasons.

Being raised Mormon with a Mormon extended family, Callie touched on the expectation that as the oldest female child, she’s supposed to get married and rapidly produce babies, and that as a PhD student at Cambridge, she’s considered to be overly educated and thus unmarriageable according to those in the know (her grandfather). Despite these expectations, Callie is navigating the wonders of online dating, including unsolicited dick pics. Callie summarised true heartbreak succinctly as “leaving a kitchen aid behind.”

She touched on the small scale of Cambridge life and the absurdities that come from being an expat in Cambridge. She puzzled though the extremities of English plumbing, the unwritten and uncanny ability of British people to know when to queue (the answer seems to be “always”), and the possible reason for volume differences between Australians, Americans, and the British. Despite being an American, Callie kept the political jokes to a minimum -- only lightly touching on the shared shame of similar US expats in the room, before directing her attention back to playing with stereotypes. 

And what of the titular mooncup and associated bitch slap, you ask? Seemingly, a story for another time. The title remained unreferenced throughout the performance and the rationale for the alarmingly specific imagery never given. Callie’s rapid style delivery and specific attention to detail, at times oddly charming and suited to her subjects, was a little breathless during a forty minute set.

Callie’s blunt material and meditations on family life, class (and sibling) dynamics, being an expat, and mature student life made for a delightful hour of entertainment. While perhaps not a tonally diverse performance and a little breathless, her unwavering bluntness - and oddly charming attention to details one would never have considered - lent a quirky charm to her performance.


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