Edward James

Edinburgh Fringe review: Holly Walsh, Never Had It

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Never Had It is a show about that indefinable quality that all charismatic individuals seem to display with ease, and Holly Walsh opens the show with a PowerPoint showing leaders like Obama and Diana who certainly have “it”, along with those in the public eye who don’t.

You may think that to be a comedian, to stand on stage and make a room full of strangers laugh, you must have “it”. However a series of photograph slides from Walsh’s childhood and early adulthood show that she Never Had It.

As with most shows involving a large helping of PowerPoint, Never Had It is very carefully scripted. Taking off-mic in a very intimate room, Walsh performs as if she were on a much larger stage, projecting across the audience and moving with smooth choreographed steps between routines.

A range of callbacks are very neatly placed into the narrative, waiting to be highlighted (with accompanying slides) at the perfect point. Some of these routines are clearly telegraphed, but today’s audience love Walsh’s punchlines throughout.

Walsh still finds space within her structure to talk to the audience a little, especially in today’s show when a couple have brought their two pre-teen children to the show – much to Walsh’s amusement as she reaches into the bulk of the show.

Some of the family-friendly parts of Walsh’s show include her description of Parents’ Evening as “a swot’s sports day”, her love of real ale, the idea that married couples should pick their own surname – like a sports team name, and her love of marginalia in renaissance art (with hilarious visual examples).

However the less respectable routine are, as always, where the best humour lies. Walsh discusses the conventional American baseball analogy for dating, and suggests that in Britain we need a much more complex version, like a cross country run.

She explains how she learnt about sex from magazine agony aunts, and presumed that all women looked worried and ashamed immediately after sex. She claims it is impossible to be taken seriously when swearing or talking dirty in her well-spoken accent, and she makes a number of explicit comparisons throughout the show.

Walsh consistently refers back to how she views herself as inferior to those with charisma, and tells a fine example of this, with a major twist, to end the show. It is a personal show, but one containing universal experiences that most Holly Walsh fans will relate to.

She claims that she never owns a room, but with a combination of great script, thoughtful PowerPoint and music choices, and her own brand of charisma, Walsh certainly owns the stage.

Date of live review: 20 August 2014 @ Assembly George Square

Click to read all our Edinburgh Fringe reviews so far.