Funny-n-Stiletto’s **** 4/5
Catford, London SE6
Saturday 6th April 2013
The eagerly anticipated Funny n Stiletto’s UK tour saw the return of its American founder Queen Aishah and fellow American Vanessa Fraction, on her second visit to the capital following the series of gigs she did last December 2012 which went down a storm.
A rarity of an all Ladies bill (well almost!) also included Maureen Younger, the singer, Chidi and host Donna Spence.
Donna wowed the audience with her sisterhood themed jokes regarding being a plus size (she’s a former plus size model), jokes about women bosses – she wasn’t too enamoured by some of them she’s come across and regaled the audience with her take on how she can tell if a particular boss was “getting some” by the way she would come skipping into work singing “oh what a sunny morning!”, to which Donna would reply, “but it’s raining outside!!”
We heard material relating to women who “steal” other women’s men such as Javine “stealing MC Harvey” from Alesha Dixon. This was reported 7 years ago though, back in 2006, so I’m not quite sure why Donna related this, something she’s done on a number of occasions over the years. Clearly a big issue for her. Fair enough for a “women’s gig” and it did seem to strike a sisterly chord with the audience. Personally it just came across as a little dated to use such an old example to highlight her point.
Maureen was the only white woman on the line up. I have to say this looked a little odd and she knew it and immediately confronted it, making jokes that went down brilliantly and from thereon she had the audience on side and heartily laughing away. She hilariously took the p out of herself and her size and how she uses her, ahem, “natural baby bulge” to her advantage to get a seat on the train. She showed a clear understanding and knowledge of Black culture which endeared her to the predominantly Black audience, but above all she delivered a confident, polished and funny series of jokes, with many surprising punch-lines thrown in along the way.
Queen Aishah, from New Jersey, USA, is another plus size comedian. She founded ‘Funny n Stiletto’s’ which has toured all over America and is the Executive Producer of this tour. She too joked about her size, family, relationships – she’s been married a long time, so there less of the “woe is me … can’t find a good man” routines and more of the issues of a married woman, which was quite refreshing to hear.
It was nice to see Tameka Empson a.k.a. Kim Fox from Eastenders on stage. Donna did a short interview with her. Donna praised the fact she had been in a “black relationship” with Chucky “Ray” Venn in Eastenders. Though they’re not together Tameka promised some surprises to come and urged people to keep watching. It was funny when Donna said she needs to change the wallpaper in the B&B. Kim thought it was alright, yet when asked the audience were in agreement with Donna that it needed freshening up!
For those unaware, Tameka mentioned that she has an online spin off soap opera called Kim’s Palace. You can view previous and forthcoming episodes vai the above link.
She acknowledged the fact people were loving the show and her and Ray’s character (sadly to be no more it would seem) and reminded people that if they love their characters that they need to let the BBC know directly and not keep it to themselves. Every correspondence is logged and as relatively few do take the trouble to write in, one email or letter of praise is worth 1,000 viewer comments. By taking such action you help increase the chances of your favourite characters and shows staying on screen.
Hailing from the home city, Chicago, of the President of the United States of America President Barak Obama, Vanessa Fraction, used this commonality to show that “even a sista” can date a President! Careful not to present a threat to the first Lady, Michelle Obama, she explained that the guy didn’t have to be President of the USA, but could, for instance, be president of a local charity.
Slim, petite and very athletic, you could say Vanessa was the “token skinny girl” on the bill!!
Her 30 minute set covered a wide range of material, from dating to equality to motivation and employment/unemployment matters. Highlights were the telephone call she once received from “her partner’s” girlfriend; the jokes about ‘polite bum’ (i.e. small like hers) v ‘impolite, all over the place bum’ and she wiggled hers to hilariously make her point. In fact she did a lot of this in the show. She’s quite the athlete on stage and must burn a serious amount of calories with each gig she does. With Queen Aisha’s booty shaking and Vanessa’s hip gyrating, booty shaking performance, it’s a wonder the Broadway Theatre wasn’t shaken to its foundations!
I loved it when she went into the audience and started lap dancing right in the faces of men and women. Hilarious.
On equalities matters something she said surprised me but she didn’t seem over keen on it. Apparently in America the Child Support Agency, CSA, go for the woman if the man is “left holding the baby” and the woman is out earning a living. Not sure if that happens in the UK too, but odd as it sounds I suppose it makes logical sense.
Vanessa’s a very good singer to and demonstrated her vocal prowess by belting out a few tunes including a beautiful rendition of a few lines of the late Luther Vandross’s ‘So Amazing’
You could say that song summed up her performance as it climaxed, almost literally, oooh errr, in a quite astonishing finale to her set. Terrific fun.
Wayne “Dibbi” Rollins
Wayne “Dibbi” Rollins headlined the show in trade-mark ladies clothes and get up, with exaggerated Bajan accent. I didn’t really enjoy his set. I found it routine and over familiar having seen him a number of times over the years. I was also disappointed and surprised that an innovative all woman line up allowed a man to headline the show. That just didn’t seem right, especially as he wasn’t even billed as the star of the night.
I also fail to see the point of allowing Sister Christine Meade to come on stage at the start of the show to promote her ‘Good Shepherd’ charity. All very noble and worthy of course, but it didn’t sit well with a comedy night and it’s raunchy ‘X ‘ rated theme, which saw Donna guiding her gently out of the theatre straight after for a show she promised wasn’t for “delicate ears and the easily offended”.
The show certainly had a raunchy, highly sexual theme running throughout. As expected there were many sisterly, relationship based jokes, but the show did not alienate men and was equally enjoyed by the many men, as well as women present in the Broadway Theatre.
All in all it was a very funny show from the ‘Funny-N-Stilletto’s’ comediennes and I look forward to the next one.
©Tiemo Talk of the Town
3rd May 2013
The performers on the show may well be nominees for the Black Comedy Awards 2013, with Queen Aishah and Vanessa Fraction likely contenders for Best International Comedian.
For news about the Black Comedy Awards 2013 nominations and awards ceremony please keep an eye on this Blog as well as tiemo where news and information on the awards will be posted in due course.
Video of the show and interviews
Interview with Donna Spence (pictured above), Vanessa Fraction and Queen Aishah, plus highlights from the Broadway Theatre, Catford, show on ViewNowTV – 6th April 2013.