Olga Koch: Fight (4 stars)

This article is from 2018

Olga Koch: Fight

Telling a crazy true story that barely requires embellishment

Russian-American twentysomething comic Olga Koch occupies a pretty unique spot for taking a quick look back at Russia's history. Born in the year Boris Yeltsin was elected, this confident millennial in a jazzy purple shellsuit traces her parents' love story, her Motherland's transition from the Soviet regime into capitalism and her own recent rise to fame.

She describes her dad's wooing of her mum, then shows a bunch of 90s home videos of her family fooling around, before dropping in the fact that her dad became Russia's deputy prime minister. After being vilified for failing to distribute the country's wealth evenly, he then became a game-show host, and is now living in exile in Germany since being mysteriously stopped at Moscow airport a few years ago: hearing his strange-but-true story is worth the ticket price alone.

The vintage clips of pro-Gorbachev TV adverts for Pizza Hut are absolute gold, as Koch describes a country trying to quickly get onboard with brand advertising and Western culture, just as she was developing her own crushes on boys and Chicago Bulls basketball merch.

Koch is clearly trying to figure out where she fits in to all of this bizarre back story, and finishes with a musical finale about her love of dating younger boys. She forces herself too much into the limelight a few times (her used-tampon business idea probably won't make her a mint), but the photos of her posing dramatically as a kid do work pretty well, as she sweetly admits with a shrug that she's always been a bit of a show-off. Naturally comfortable onstage, Koch burns brightest when she's not trying too hard and is just telling it straight about her own family, and her country's often ludicrous journey to the present day.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug (not 14), 7.15pm, £7–£9 (£6.50–£8).

Olga Koch: Fight

The Amused Moose National New Comic Award finalist discusses the most surreal year in her family's life, which began when her father was stopped by authorities on the Russian border.