Having successfully reached 30, in Dope (4 stars) Martin is looking back at her life and questioning whether she has an addictive personality or not; the obsessive part of her brain characterised here as a little shrimp – pink, cute and monstrous. After the evidence she gives it doesn't take a psychiatrist to conclude that the answer has to be 'yes'.
She cites the beginnings of her obsessive behaviour in an outrageous crush, aged six, on Bette Midler, conjuring a vivid image of herself choosing to dress like a middle aged man and topped by her home cut pudding bowl hair. Martin's wonderfully frank about those innocent burgeoning sexual feelings where you're too young to know what's going on but know that it makes you "want to be physically alone to think about them". The routine includes a gloriously uncomfortable (for us, not her) fruity dream she has about the Hocus Pocus witches, which is only okay because she is the six-year-old concerned. Moving away from Bette (though not entirely) she moves to stalk a comedy club and its inhabitants and precociously takes up standup herself.
Over the years Martin has developed a deliciously quirky style, and her depiction here of herself as kooky young weirdo in training makes an evocative picture. But the meat of the show, it turns out—the bit that "gets you good reviews in the Guardian"—is her candid depiction of her drug addiction. Martin's a reassuring presence as she takes us up this thorny path, constantly qualifying her behaviour and reassuring that she's pretty much okay now so there's no need to worry. It's a show that's not only likely to garner good reviews in the Guardian but surely is the stuff of award nods, too.
Bobby Mair's like that internal voice we all have that tells us to do bad things. Most of us keep this internal chatter to ourselves. Mair, however, parades his in front of strangers for a laugh. And very funny it is too. "Ever hated anyone for no reason whatsoever?" he asks within the first few minutes.
Mair should be in a happy place. As the Viceland programme about him has documented, albeit with tongue very much in cheek, Mair has married fellow comedian (and according to him another person with "issues") Harriet Kemsley. But talk of having kids has put the spotlight on Mair's own background, and the fact that he was adopted provides a poignant edge to Mair's gleeful don't-give-a-monkeys oversharing, as he discovers, heart-breakingly, that his mother had children before him who "she didn't give away".
Elsewhere in the set there's a surprising amount of common sense for a man whose appearance and demeanour suggests that he has trouble handling most things in life. He recognises, for example, that despite his skinny appearance, his internal organs are probably dust thanks to his poor diet and lack of exercise. There are some nice absurdities thrown in for good measure too: he's considering adoption himself...of a 90-year-old woman. Go catch him; he's a bittersweet treat.
Still finding his way in the world and struggling with being a camp man in a straight man's body is Tom Lucy. This is his debut show, having been causing something of a stir in his first few years doing standup, including winning Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year in 2016.
At a cursory glance the topics in Needs to Stop Showing Off in Front of His Friends (4 stars) are pretty familiar ones, ones you'd expect from a 21-year-old – family, school and his ongoing quest for a girlfriend. But in Lucy's hands they feel completely fresh.
He hasn't got the easiest of audiences in today, with his former drama teacher in the front row, a woman with the hair of an '80s soft rock band coming in late, and "Don't bring me into it!" Peter on the third row. But despite his youth Lucy has enough confidence to not only not let it distract him from the show, but also to keep returning like a tongue to a broken tooth to Peter, his curmudgeonly responses becoming something of a running joke. And Lucy likes his running jokes: there are call backs a plenty, his hour darting about with references to previous routines all over the place. It's dizzying.
It's an accident of biology but it has to be said that his voice is a comedy godsend. Granted it makes him sound like he should be on a Saturday evening special filmed at the end of a pier but his slightly high-pitched cadence adds to the tac sharp lines. The boy is certain to go far.