Joanne McNally: The Prosecco Express – Edinburgh Fringe

There is something to be said for crowdwork. A few minutes of audience interaction at the top of an hour can really create a connection between performer and crowd, and allow you to feel like you are seeing a unique moment of creative spark, never to be repeated, setting up the real material nicely. The issue is when this works more so than the pre-written material. 

Joanne McNally is a great comic when it comes to crowd work, her energy bubbling as she paces back and forth along the stage looking for audience members to chat to. She is obviously quick on her feet, both metaphorically and literally, and has a talent for mining out nuggets from crowd responses. However, when it gets to her scripted segments, she falls flat.

The potential is there – stories of moving back home in her mid thirties, her search as an adoptee for her birth mother, and somewhat bizarre friends seem to be perfect openings for fantastic routines. Sadly, they often lose lustre before they can even start. The material about finding her birth mother particularly falls flat, with the bit simply being about not looking similar upon finding each other, where it feels like so much more could be done. This is a crying shame, as McNally is obvious a naturally funny person, and her likeability and stage presence means that the audience is constantly rooting for her to succeed. 

This really is a show that lives on its flashes of brilliance (a pair of audience members answering in sync, or a couple that claimed to meet ‘down the street’ are wonderfully exploited for gags), but stretches of weak material mean there is little momentum in the hour. Further, there is one problematic routine about cultural appropriation in which McNally seems to blame the minority cultures themselves for being appropriated. In all, this is an hour that is decent but fails to live up to the potential of the performer.


The Prosecco Express runs until the 26th of August – buy tickets here.

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Scott Redmond

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