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Sarah Millican's Not Nice

Trudie Robinson talks to a Manchester-based comedian whose post-divorce humour is making them laugh up at the Edinburgh Fringe

Published on August 19th 2008.

Sarah Millican's Not Nice

Relocated from her native Newcastle, Sarah Millican is now living in one of those fancy flats around the back of Piccadilly. It’s the kind of area that, despite being all poshed up and regenerated, maintains a frisson of excitement as there’s still a risk of being mistaken for a prossie as you walk to and from the city centre.

Lines are delivered with a wonderful disparaging look and there are lovely portraits of the family life she returns to after splitting from her husband. Her father (otherwise known as The Voice of Doom) helpfully comments, “You’re bound to be upset. You’ve lost everything.”

As she’s doing so well up here at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (and as she chose to live in Manchester a few years ago) we’re claiming her as one of our own. Of course we noticed her before she even came to the city; it’s no exaggeration to say that since she stepped onto the circuit she’s been earmarked as one to watch.

She started out in her native Geordie-land in 2004 after she and her husband split up. “I thought, you have to think about what it is you want to do, now there’s no restrictions and no compromise,” she remembers.

She’d already tried her hand at writing but hadn't had much success. “I started when I was 17, and was generally rubbish to be honest. Every writer needs to get at least ten years of crap out of the way before what you write has the potential to be quite good. I just stopped doing it for a while, carried on living and having a job, being married and all those sorts of things. My husband was always really supportive of my writing and it was me rather than him [that stopped her]. He wasn’t all ‘do the dishes woman’ but [I was] ‘I’d rather play out with you.”

True inspiration for Millican came when she saw the late comedian Linda Smith on the very night she and her husband left the flat that had been their marital home. She was “walking through the park with my belongings in a box, sobbing my heart out,” when she received a late call from the theatre as there had been a last minute cancellation. “My life was pretty shit but for two and a half hours I didn't really think about it. She helped me that night and I really did need a laugh.”

It was a turning point: “Occasionally I think that there might be people in the audience that are going through some crap in their lives and if I can let them escape it for twenty minutes then I think that’s pretty cool.”

That she certainly does. She entered competitions such as the BBC New Comedy Award, So You Think You’re Funny and Funny Women, and came runner-up in most of them. Why she didn’t win is anyone’s guess, though she did take first place in the Amused Moose contest. Nevertheless a buzz was soon following her around the circuit.

Over the last few years she’s been biding her time, building up material until she had an hour to take to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – and what an hour it is.

On the night we saw the show, she was on fine form, though judging by all the five and four star reviews stuck to her poster, she’s been equally good every night. Described as ‘mumsy filth’ by one journalist, she appears almost demur stood on the stage in jeans, floral top and sporting a kindly face. Even her lovely Geordie accent has a soothing singsong quality that could lull your children to sleep. This is exactly why her show is called Not Nice. Many people assume from her appearance that she’s harmless so she’s out to dispel that misleading image. She only needs to open her mouth and utter her first sentence to confound. And you really wouldn’t want to leave your children with her, never mind let her sing them a bedtime lullaby.

She announces from the offset that she considers herself to be a bit of a cow and follows it up with a joke about Shannon Mathews’ hair do. She then declares that she doesn’t like kids; causing everyone in the room that has ever had an evil thought about the blessed children (whether their own or others) to let out a relieved guffaw.

She goes on to chat about her post-divorce life. On pointing out to her ex that a pair of curtains (“Fleur de Lys, not to my taste,”) have survived in his possession longer than two girlfriends and a wife he meekly responds, “but they’re lined…”

The show works through those questions you ask yourself when a relationship breaks down: Why did I marry the first bloke that liked me? And the more worrying: What if I’m no good at the sex? Lines are delivered with a wonderful disparaging look and there are lovely portraits of the family life she returns to after splitting from her husband. Her father (otherwise known as The Voice of Doom) helpfully comments, “You’re bound to be upset. You’ve lost everything.”

Throughout the show, she asks pertinent questions of her audience leading to screeches of simultaneous embarrassment and mirthful delight. And finally when she has everyone primed, she takes it one step further and reveals the true meaning behind the title of her show. With a gag rate faster than an automatic pistol and a mouth bluer than the shadow cabinet, she might not be nice, but she is very funny.

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

concernedAugust 19th 2008.

Sarah Millican is certainly Not Nice _ Her face makes me cringe.Ugly people are horrible.

BenAugust 19th 2008.

You don't judge a book by its cover. And even if you WERE that shallow, I think this one has a nice cover! Seen her twice - Frog & Bucket & Bar XS, I think - and both times she was a hoot. I look forward to seeing her Edinburgh show if/when it hits town later in the year.

KatieAugust 19th 2008.

I had the opportunity of seeing Sarah live at my local Comedy night a couple of months ago. Her witty humour has a bunch of us laughing all night! She has great unique style and material and makes you laugh about the everyday type stuff that makes us all human. Definately go and see her if you get the chance.

not uglyAugust 19th 2008.

If she isn't ugly you lot must be monsters

AnonymousAugust 19th 2008.

thats a bit harsh concerned, are you her ex husband in disguise?

Lover boyAugust 19th 2008.

I think she's dead fit. Take those glasses off and then a shake of that head. Then afterwards she'd make you laugh in bed.

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