Charlie and Jennie come rushing through TriBeCa’s doors, clearly worried they’re late, brandishing a guitar case and dragging a massive suitcase behind them.
The 10 or 12 audience members follow them down the stairs into the basement venue and watch as the suitcase is opened and an impressive array of props (of varying sizes and glitter-to-cloth ratios) are produced and given their place on stage.
A golden tassle curtain is hung on the black wall at the back and a blow-up doll whose t-shirt tells us its name is ‘Genderless Bob’ takes front row.
And so sets the scene for the show ‘Charles and Jen’, which came to Manchester from the Edinburgh Fringe for the penultimate night of the Women in Comedy Festival.
A show about anxiety, living between binaries, and womanhood, the evening was a clever and funny insight into the two comedians’ path “navigating the world as total queerdos.”
Jennie and Charlie clearly have a close personal as well as working relationship. The first skit has elevator music click on over the speakers and Jennie steps into the spotlight to be explained to the audience by Charlie. It’s a weirdly comforting mish-mash of a David Attenborough documentary with a car showroom. The two then each take the stage for a 15-minute solo stand-up bit.
Charlie Georgie – aka Charles – has an impressive but unsurprising list of accolades behind her. LGBTQ+ New Comedian of the Year 2019, So You Think You’re Funny runner up 2019, Funny Women Awards runner up 2019, Leicester Square New Comedian Award and Pride’s Got Talent finalist 2018. She also runs and co-hosts, with Jennie, the Crack-Up Comedy Cabaret in London, in aid of the mental health charity Core Arts.
Before comedy she was a circus performer and dancer. This accounts for the fact that from her eyebrows to her mouth and toes, Charlie has complete control over her body movements and uses them to full comic effect. She’s just fun to watch.
It is also refreshing to watch someone who makes comments on growing up queer and biracial with a “white, Daily Mail-reading, Jehovah’s Witness mum,” with dark, brilliantly-timed humour.
“I’m not good at f***ing my way into a category of human organisation,” she announces, thrusting her hips forward to punctuate each word.
“Which is weird, cos I love tidying.”
Jennie Falconer seems to be less in the national comedy limelight. A writer and performer, she has a drama background and was then a teaching assistant for seven years. This comes into her comedy a lot.
At one point she tells us about a time a stranger hissed a sentence in her ear that had something to do with licking, and the stage is then transformed into a classroom lesson on the importance of intonation in meaning and level of creepiness. It was brilliant.
The venue unfortunately didn’t allow the show to shine as much as it should have. The size of the room and its odd layout meant that Charlie and Jennie worked hard to build energy in the room, but they did well considering the smaller audience size.
There were also a few technology blips which was a shame – although for the most part the sound was timed spot-on and the audience was kept laughing by surprise outbursts of songs and sound effects.
A scene where Charlie produces a black baby from beneath her dress to the Lion King soundtrack is a favourite, as a hilarious but poignant remark about the fact that (white) people insist on branding her as a “black woman.” She’s British-Asian, guys.
Although it needs a bit of polishing, the show is a great work that shows true comedic skill. Both comedians completely filled their space on stage and brought warmth and personality to their performances.
Please keep all the random props, classroom interludes and bursts of song. It’s original, it’s clever, and it works.
A duo to keep an eye on, I think.
Crack-Up Comedy Cabaret is at The Glory on Thursday Oct 24. Buy tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/crack-up-comedy-cabaret-3-tickets-63362405661
Charlie is performing in Bristol on Oct 17, Cambridge Oct 18 and across London from Oct 19. Buy tickets here: https://charliegeorgecomedy.com/