Review: Friki

Carl Wikeley 10 May 2016

Imagine a packed Corpus Playroom on a Monday night. Imagine the hottest day of the year so far, and a sweltering, brightly-lit fiery cauldron-from-hell of a tiny box room. Not exactly perfect conditions for a show, right? No problem, though, as Isa Bonachera was completely at home on the stage. There’s a holistic quality to the appeal of most stand-up comedians nowadays, and Bonachera is no exception- although some of her material needs a lot of work (or scrapping altogether), the comedian has such a charm and stage-presence that I can’t help but predict that she will do well.

Constructing any stand-up show is unbelievably difficult, doing so without a warmup or fellow performers is even harder, and making it last for over an hour is a massive feat. While there were certainly weaker moments (perhaps the description of the show should have included ‘work in progress’), Isa Bonachera was easy-going enough to dismiss any awkwardness and continue with her material. The overall structure of her show was relatively predictable – life lessons, pet hates, and so on – but there was enough subversion of expectation that she rarely resorted to cliché or convention. Certainly, some of her material was in well-covered areas, but this seems inevitable with today’s absolute saturation of stand-up comedy, and this is, perhaps, what a mainstream audience desires.

In fact, what will mark Bonachera out as a possible future star is her natural ability to hold the audience. There were a few less-impressed faces in the audience; even the slightest controversial punchline was met with the odd frown. Cambridge is not hugely fertile land for jokes including the words ‘crazy’, or ‘fat’, for example. Some of the punchlines which included these words, in whatever context, were met with the odd gasp or simply stoney-silence. Luckily for the rest of the audience, this did not deter the majority from feeling at ease and entertained.

I wonder how long it will be before stand-up comedy as a genre finds itself under pressure to offer content warnings. I encourage sensibility and sensitivity in all areas, but comedians should never be forced to self-censor. Comedy is deeply personal, and we should admire those brave enough to take to the stage and try and make us laugh with just their personalities and charm. Isa Bonachera has this in masses (she’s also a physicist), and will surely go far.