Jenny Bede: The First Pregnant Woman in the World

13/08/22

Underbelly Bristo Square (Clover), Edinburgh

We first encountered Jenny Bede way back in 2013 at the Fringe, when she appeared alongside Jessie Cave in Ain’t Too Proud to Beg. We enjoyed that show a lot, but haven’t managed to see her since. Until now. And, while a lot has changed (she’s the first woman in the whole world to have ever been pregnant, you know), she’s still the same sweet-faced, potty-mouthed, musical comic we remember.

The theme here is – unsurprisingly, given the title – motherhood, but – as should also be evident – Bede is very, very self-aware. She’s brutally honest about the toll pregnancy and parenting take (the struggle to work while breast-feeding; the hormonal rage of the second trimester; the absolute carnage of giving birth), but also conscious of the self-absorption and entitlement ‘a white woman with a buggy’ sometimes displays.

Bede is an engaging performer. Her style is chatty and intimate, and she doesn’t seem to have a filter – some of her tales are very personal (and all the better for it). The show’s high points are the musical numbers, all original pieces, with bitingly witty lyrics. The standout is the song about things that make her angry, that soon descends into a rant, interrupted periodically by cheers and applause from the audience as she highlights issues that have affected us all (not least the fact that Boris Johnson was enjoying a party at the exact same time she was giving birth without her partner present, because WE WEREN’T ALLOWED TO MIX!).

There’s a weird heckle early on that unsettles her briefly, but Bede is an experienced comedian, and she soon settles back into her stride. This is a funny and appealing show, with some serious points playing peek-a-boo behind the jokes.

3.5 stars

Susan Singfield

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