Janey Godley – Nobody spared [by Sharu Delilkan]
An impressive crowd was assembled in The Classic for Janey Godley’s entrance despite it being a cold and wet Monday evening.
However it was only when she got on stage that my husband realised that the woman who had been smoking right next to us was the one and only Godley. That basically sums Godley up – understated but with something to say. Further emphasised by the fact that she was outside 10 seconds after the show selling her autobiography, Handstands in the Dark.
Proudly Scottish, which some comedians would play more on, Godley is just naturally funny from the get-go.
Her off the cuff reaction to restless audience members who tried to light a candle at the table and who talk loudly to their friends, at the start of the show, make you a tad nervous to move in case you got picked on. But when the audience settled so did she.
Her personal story telling feel draws in the crowd and keeps us enthralled and concerned about her life throughout the hour.
Godley’s no-holes-barred delivery is off limits to nothing and no one. Among which include Asperger’s, Chinese Pandas, depression, orgasms, possums, previous Japanese audience members, The Afghanistan War, The Kardashians, The Scottish government and Simply Red’s music. Even her family, particularly her daughter, husband and colleagues aren’t spared. And you get the impression that standing up and talking is cathartic for Godley, who would sacrifice anyone given the permission.
Scottish accents, poverty and deprivation are always ripe material in the mould of Billy Connolly but Godley has a more personal take on things, talking about the secondary radiation of such things rather than the immediate burn.
Her raw, emotional experiences rather than a series of tales of woe make Godley transcend the downtrodden to express the voice of those who can, and have endured.
Memorable lines include ‘I’m getting banged harder than a Scottish drum in July’ and ‘I love traffic lights that count down your death’.
She glides throughout the ‘Godley Hour’ effortlessly, except for 10 minutes before the end when she realises that she has run out of time. But even though she’s forced to cram the rest of her material into the last few minutes, which she said she had mistimed due to it being her first night at The Classic, she manages to tie all the previous stories together into a neat little package. Her clever use of the ‘full circle’ device works a treat and makes the audience feel that they know and understand her.
One thing that is particularly interesting and probably even telling is how she swears at the beginning of the show that she doesn’t give a toss about what people think about her. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. She clearly wants to be liked by the audience and thanks to her colourful Glaswegian vocabulary and her ability to tell wild rambling stories about her misadventures, she has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand.
The comedian, columnist and actress clearly loves Aotearoa, as she professes in her show, and by her five return visits here. Her gritty, real comic brand is genuine, which everyone can relate to. It is therefore no wonder that the regular 5-star performer at the Edinburgh Fringe has a string of accolades to her name including being the New Zealand Comedy Guild nominee for ‘Best International Guest’ in 2002, 2006 and 2008.
All the talk of cunts and wankers and losers is merely a comic device used to get to the heart of what she wants to say. And what she said to me was be steadfast and laugh at life – and that’s what I did tonight with Janey Godley.
Janey Godley’s The Godley Hour plays at The Classic until 19 May. Details see NZ International Comedy Festival 2012.