It’s a quirk of this year’s Fringe guide that the writers Virginia Ironside and Viv Groskop are side-by-side in the comedy section. Ironside, the author and agony aunt, doesn’t begin her promisingly frank-sounding show until the 18th, but Groskop is already packing people in. You can imagine struggling full-time comics sounding furiously Farage about it. “Fringe comedy is full. Close the borders…”
A prodigiously talented and popular journalist, Groskop turned to standup a few years back and certainly put the hours in. And yet her debut Fringe show is infuriatingly unsatisfying, as it showcases little of the insight, opinion and well-honed wordplay you’d expect from a prolific columnist. Most of the big laughs here originate from the audience, in fact.
Say Sorry to the Lady is about apologising, and Groskop spends a hefty chunk of the show reading out the audience’s thoughts, gathered in the bar beforehand: who should they apologise to, and who do they think should say 'sorry'? She also appoints several ‘ministers’, and it’s often their responses that garner the guffaws.
Her own material kicks off the show, and often kicks at lazy targets. There are some wince-inducing lines about Scottish pregnancies and people with tattoos, while an interesting opening section about her intriguing surname manages to boast about her educational achievements but skirts too quickly over a potentially fascinating topic, her hidden Jewish roots.
Still, that could be a fine topic for a later show, and Groskop certainly has the outward confidence to take her audience into much more challenging territory.