BWW Review: TESSA COATES: PRIMATES, Latitude Festival
What do you do with a BA in Anthropology? Become a stand-up comedian. Armed with the knowledge of how to analyse the history of the human race, Tessa Coates examines the phenomenon that is modern day man, woman and Billy Elliots in Primates.
One third of sketch group Massive Dad, this show marks Coates' debut as a solo performer. If there were any anxiety about doing this show by herself, there need not be. From dating apps to monkey penises, Coates brings her own hilarious confessions and observations to the stage. With an openness and (slightly ashamed) honesty, she makes the audience feel like they're chatting to her down the pub (or more likely Prezzo).
Coates is quick to poke fun at herself and her somewhat posh persona. She goes to make a joke about going to a festival where there's a Waitrose, only to realise there's one at Latitude. Giggling her way through an anecdote about sex, it's hard not to compare her to a young Miranda Hart. Which I feel the need to justify is not a bad thing.
From years on the comedy and TV circuits, Miranda has cultivated a special relationship with audiences. Coates is able to create a similar one in just ten minutes with an audience in a tent. Utterly lovable, you can't help but be drawn into her stories. "By the way...I really shouldn't tell you this!" Oversharing a story about sex with an ex in a lift, you half cringe and half cackle.
It's material like this that prove she'll win a certain audience demographic. The ones who Google quizzes and whose search radius on Tinder is 95 miles, but who are also strong feminists and definitely don't need a man (which I can say, being one). These are the things girls discuss among themselves, not hear about in comedy shows. Tessa Coates brings these to the stage, like a modern day Spice Girl: Sporty, Scary, Ginger, Posh, Baby and Anthropologist.
Given a fifteen minute slot in the Cabaret Tent, a lot of the material does seem half-remembered and unstructured. Given a full hour at the Edinburgh Fringe, I imagine the material will be more thought out, though hopefully keeping the overly-familiar and affable "By the way". One more structured piece proves a highlight of the show, and was the funniest five minutes from Latitude Festival for me. Pretending to be the supportive if very, very worried friends of an early JK Rowling, Coates explains the story of Harry Potter: "And when he was a baby...he killed a man? Is that right, JK?"
Sharing and revealing a lot, Tessa Coates is a revelation on the comedy scene.
Tessa Coates: Primates plays the Edinburgh Fringe, 2 - 26 August 2017
Photo Credit: Marco Vittur