Gilded Balloon, Teviot, Edinburgh
Amy Howerska opens the gig with a warning: it’s the end of the festival and everyone’s gone a little bit stir-crazy. She’s probably right: a whole month of gigging in this hot-house of creativity and competition is bound to take its toll. But she, unlike a lot of others, at least looks like she’s maintained a healthy balance – all glowing skin and shiny eyes. She doesn’t look tired or defeated or in dire need of some clean air. She’s ebullient and fresh, and the whole thing starts off well.
The show centres on Howerska’s unusual background. She boasts a familial line of ex-military (SAS?) men, and grew up in a sky-diving drop-zone run by her father when he left the services. It’s wonderfully unusual; she doesn’t have to work too hard to pique our interest. There are tales of near-death in the Brecon Beacons, and a large cast of aunties and other relatives are vividly brought to life. She’s sparky and likeable, and the audience is on her side.
It’s a shame, then, that she seems to lose confidence part way through the set. There are only twenty or so people in the audience, and so of course our laughter is more muted than it would be in a larger crowd. Maybe we don’t respond as she expects at a key moment? It’s hard to tell. But she loses focus, leaves the stage to switch on a fan, and then starts commenting that we’re not laughing at particular lines. She seems to panic a little, derailing her momentum.
Luckily, this doesn’t last too long, and Howerska soon regains her stride, explaining with gusto why funerals are better than weddings, and why hen parties are hell on earth. She’s funny, smart and different – and definitely one to watch.