“Everything’s fine. I’m fine. Everything. Is. Fine. I am fine. But…”
Sharp, clever and extremely relatable, Joy Hunter’s one woman show, I’m Fine, is a whirlwind tour of the mess of modern life, which promises to have you laughing out loud at its unembarrassed and piercing accuracy. Jumping energetically from the politics of dating to the vacuity of Instagram poetry, from the hypocrisy of the mansplainer to the pointlessness of the metal straw, Hunter explores the realities of life for our generation, showing us that, although it is sometimes scary and sometimes frustrating, it is also really important to laugh at it.
The show was highly focused on the experiences of people in their early twenties, picking out forgotten or overlooked moments from our shared adolescence and revealing their unexpected hilarity. With the CCTV footage of that woman dumping that cat in that bin playing on a loop in the background, Hunter took us back through the famous moments of the 2010s, offering a humorous perspective on the decade of our teenage angst and our slow entry into adulthood. The video soon gave way to the type of Powerpoint presentation – complete with scratchy Paint drawings – that we might have made in an ICT class in 2011, providing a comical background support for Hunter’s anecdotes and imaginings.
The makeshift shakiness of her funny little Paint stick-men added to the show’s pleasantly haphazard and relaxed feel. Her performance, flitting rapidly between subjects and moods, had all the spontaneity of a conversation between friends, and was delivered with an incredible ease and confidence. Rather than reeling off a set of jokes and hoping that people would laugh, Hunter seemed to really engage with her audience, responding ad lib to our reactions and making it extremely easy to identify with what she was saying.
As her hour-long show drew to a close, Hunter’s acerbic sarcasm could well have tipped into a hackneyed and repetitive rhythm, but she is too skilled a performer to allow this to happen. Instead, in a brave move, she slowed the fast pace of her gags, and entered into a more meditative section on the more unfunny aspects of student experience. She reflected on the feelings of anxious isolation and exhaustion that can come to characterise life in Cambridge, voicing the unspoken crises that we will all experience at some point, even if we don’t admit it. Having repeated her slightly hysterical motto, “Everything’s fine. I am fine”, throughout the show, she now said quietly, “And that’s not fine”, a simple line that added a great deal of poignancy to the blithe persona that had been developing in her earlier gags. Although these contemplative musings may have lost momentum slightly towards the end, they provided a touching conclusion to the piece, investing its comedy with a very human sense of vulnerability.
In short, I’m Fine really is more than fine; it’s great. In its turbulent journey through all the strange, frightening and often ridiculous difficulties that affect our generation, it reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles, no matter how small they may be. Hunter is a very talented comedian, and she really deserved the standing ovation she received at the end of the show.