“Stevenson has a presence you could smash a wine bottle on”
When you see a comedian on TV, it’s almost a coin flip as to whether they’ll stand up to their digital performance when you’re maybe ten feet away. For some, it’s clear that they’re funnier as a bundle of pixels – but, as in the case of Tiff Stevenson, proximity makes joke grow funnier.
Even when loping around the stage, Stevenson has a presence you could smash a wine bottle on. Despite being wrapped up in a thick web of humour, it’s clear from the outset that there’s an iron core to every joke: it’s as if scientists managed to fuse Belva Lockwood and someone’s drunk aunt. Pushing their own distinct beliefs is something, consciously or otherwise, all comics do; and Stevenson is a masterclass in delivering it without sounding evangelical. Even if you don’t agree with what she’s saying (however you’ve managed to come to that outcome), you’ll be hard pressed not to laugh along with her.
From the get-go, it’s an unmistakably zeitgeist-y set. In a surprisingly speedy hour, Stevenson runs the full gamut from bus bombings to baby showers, joyously flicking up v’s behind her as she runs from topic to topic. We might be awash in a sea of Macintyres, but Stevenson is one of many happy islands where comedy’s rebellious, fringe roots are still dug deep. No subject is too taboo, as she very happily reminds the audience throughout – however, often the transitional link between these subjects can wave from tenuous to unneeded, but as it takes up perhaps a minute of time in total, it hardly spoils the bunch.
If there ever was a complaint, it was that sometimes Stevenson doesn’t seem to trust her own considerable wit enough. Several times throughout the show, a fantastic joke was extended far beyond its peak, simply for the sake of explaining it. Whilst none of these jokes fell into “unfunny”, it certainly blunted the otherwise fantastically sharp tongue which dominate the rest of the show.
To talk too much about Tiff Stevenson’s set at the Roxy is to do her a disservice: half of the enjoyment comes from the unexpected directions she swerves with every punchline. But if you’re looking to start your evening on a high note, you’ll have no tiff with her.
Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 6 August)
Visit the Assembly Roxy archive.