As anyone who’s ever met me will attest, I’m pretty one-eyed when it comes to DeAnne Smith: I think she’s one of the sharpest comics on the planet, with a steely and savage wit that’s all the funnier for generally remaining hidden behind an engagingly gee-whizz-you-guys persona. Case in point: the way she cut down the chatty women in the front row who were passing phones around and confusing a stand-up gig for an inclusive forum on contemporary issues. Here’s a clue, folks: if one person in the room is facing in a different direction to you, has lights on them and is speaking via microphone through a PA, you’re probably meant to absorb more than contribute.
The thing is, though, that as Smith’s material moves into a more free-flowing anecdotal style (as compared with her more modular bit-plus-bit-plus-bit stand up of old) it’s harder to deal with chatty Cathys mid-set without losing the flow of the show. And the material’s worth waiting for too, including a fair whack about a ten-day silent meditation retreat, a one-night-stand going stitch-requiringly-wrong, and special “sweet life” treatment for one lucky punter.
If there’s a criticism to be made it’s that Smith is currently in a transitional place between a series of anecdotal routines and punchy stand-up, meaning that the sections don’t necessarily play nicely together: after telling a series of hilarious-but-personal routines, it took the audience a little while to switch gears for a more sarcastic bit late in the set about how much good she does for the world (“My fruit and vegetables are local and organic. My apples look fucked up!”), and the unforgiving Comedy Festival schedule meant that her digressions into shutting down rowdy audience members left her rushing her finale, but these are small niggles: she’s always been good, and she’s just getting better. Just maybe let the woman talk when she’s on stage, OK?