Kristen Schaal (4 stars)

This article is from 2007

Kirsten Schall

Whispering genius cobbles together a hit

The Assembly Rooms appears to have been putting up a determined campaign the last few years to platform a string of quirky female American comics with offbeat dispositions all of their own. Wendy Spero and Maria Bamford made inroads with varying success but it’s Kristen Schaal who takes the biscuit as a bona fide kooky monster. With a stirring opening about her love of Edinburgh’s streets where she can’t help sensing the city’s literary traditions and reliving a hit and run accident on the cobbles, Schaal goes on to beguile and amuse the throng (including a chuckling David O’Doherty) with an often whispered show that we left wanting to roar about from the rooftops.

When halfway through she invites her ‘boyfriend’ onto the stage to help celebrate his birthday, for one tiny moment, it looks like the plot has been lost and originality has been dumped in favour of gross-out sentimentality. The whole, horrible truth is then slowly, expertly unveiled and a staged comic desperation replaces the audience’s initial fears. There is one surprise at the end of the climax which would be a travesty to reveal except to say that it left us all wondering when we should leave the room.

Back in America, she is an increasingly familiar face through fleeting bit parts in Ugly Betty and Law and Order: SVU, as well as appearing with Flight of the Conchords on their HBO show, but she acknowledges that no one has a clue who she is over here with the double-edged title of As You’ve Probably Never Seen Her Before. If there is any justice in this showbusiness world, Kristen Schaal will soon be best remembered in the UK for an hour-long show that is impossible to erase from your mind.

Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 27 Aug (not 13, 20), 8.45pm, £10.50–£11.50 (£9.50–£10.50).

Kristen Schaal

  • 4 stars

An intriguing mixture of kooky whimsy and charming wit in a truly memorable Fringe show. 'Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007'.