REVIEW: Funny as Cancer: Beth Vyse (NZ International Comedy Festival)

Review by Matt Baker

Beth Vyse

[Continue the conversation]

I firmly believe that there is nothing you cannot joke about; it is simply a question of the victim of the joke. Beth Vyse is one of the 78% of women in the United Kingdom who have survived breast cancer, but she is not a victim. She is, however, a comedian, and she’s here for the 2016 New Zealand International Comedy Festival to share her story.

With a gaudy opening number, Vyse immediately sets the comedic tone to her show. Filled with costumes, props, music, and audience participation, there is never a dull moment in this, unfortunately, all too common story. And while Vyse doesn’t necessarily bring a unique perspective to it, she does illustrate the personal and more intimate moments of which we might not often think. These moments could be taken further for a greater cathartic effect, especially towards the end, as Vyse certainly has the capacity for tragedy as much as comedy, but perhaps that’s just the sentimentalist in me wanting more.

In New Zealand, over 50 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each week, and, while I’m not suggesting this show as a prognosis, there is no reason why Funny as Cancer cannot aid us in opening the conversation more commonly and easily than we currently do. Catharsis is the release of excess emotion, and as Vyes herself says, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.

Funny as Cancer is performed by Beth Vyse and plays at the Q Vault as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2016 until April 30. For details see Comedy Festival

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