Don’t believe the hype
This article is from 2010.
The Assembly Rooms like their north American female comics to be a bit kooky. Maria Bamford and Kristen Schaal have mined an offbeat seam to glory at this venue over the last few years, but Charlyne Yi doesn’t quite have what it takes to follow fully in their footsteps. Still, it all opened promisingly enough with a neat visual gag and a deliberately bad rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ on her guitar, lending those early suggestions that she was the new Demetri Martin to be replaced by thoughts that she may be closer to a 21st century Les Dawson.
Her name has even been uttered in the sentences alongside Andy Kaufman, but while the latter made great play in keeping the mystery alive about who he was and what the hell he was up to, Yi lunges into the audience near the end to implore us to question whether we know the difference between reality and fantasy. Where Kaufman made audiences laugh with pity or scowl with fury, Yi’s show dabbles too often in tedious repetition and even in wholly unironic schmaltz.
Give the attendant hype and her background in lo-fi indie movies, Dances on the Moon is a crushing disappointment, which begins to falter with the short music video she has conceived about a relationship break-up. The joke arrives 20 seconds in, but three minutes later we’re waiting for the thing to stop. When it finally ends, she reappears on stage to relive the routine in front of us. Her climax is a not-for-everyone sequence featuring video footage of her own birth (at least that’s what she tells us, but given what’s come before, how can we know?) as she sits by plucking at a harp. Like her tights, this show is full of holes.
Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 29 Aug (not 24), 7pm, £12–£13 (£11–£12).