Review: Bethany Black: Unwinnable

Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The Stand Comedy Club (5), 15:50, until the 26th August

Bethany Black is a fat, autistic, transgender lesbian, four ‘categories’ typically honed in on by comedians, especially the type of comedians who’ve begun whining on twitter about how SJW (Social Justice Warrior) snowflakes have ruined comedy. But what can we laugh about, they cry, if everyone’s so sensitive about their identities now?

Well, it seems, a lot because I went for an hour laughing at every other word: from anime-loving incels, porn-like experiences with home-visit engineers and “well-meaning” reactions to coming out as being on the autistic spectrum.
Bethany’s show was messy and unpolished, which I thought only added to the charm. I felt unthreatened but absolutely not unchallenged, and came away feeling both defended and promising myself to do better.

There’s that age-old adage about laughing with, not at – and that was Bethany’s show. We can laugh when Bethany talks about her autism, about being a lesbian, about her ADHD, because it’s not at her expense. It is at the expense of those who would harm people with our identities, rallying an audience together with humour: a vital step between constant, oppressive discrimination and the normalisation of calling these people the fuck out on their behaviour.

I share almost every one of Bethany’s identities, from trans to recently-diagnosed autism spectrum, plus a couple more discussed (being one of very few people of colour at the fringe) – which I’m aware not everyone will be, but I was by far not the person laughing the loudest. Whether you’re like me and find Bethany’s experiences oh-so relatable, or if you’re nothing like us and in want of something post Netflix-stand-up binge, I would heartily recommend Unwinnable.

© Nemo Martin 2018
Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 10.53.26

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