Colleen Ballinger performs deft, tone-deaf character comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
‘Haters back off!’ screams the back-drop before Colleen Ballinger aka YouTube superstar Miranda Sings takes to the stage. Later, the scatty Miranda will read out some of the nastier comments that have accompanied her online videos, which have to date been viewed nearly 175million times (that’s almost equivalent to the population of Pakistan, stats fans). There might be a sea of anonymous hate out there but in the EICC’s packed Lomond Suite, there’s nothing but love for the ‘talented artist’ who has made a name for herself by destroying any song she gets her out-of-tune vocal chords around.
Like Les Dawson who made piano art out of his ability to hit exactly the right bum note, Ballinger is only able to wholly convince in the role by being blessed with a pitch-perfect voice. And so, while Miranda goes for a pre-show ‘tinkle’, Ballinger wanders on stage to knock out a couple of numbers.
Not since Simon Brodkin deconstructed the whole notion of the costume change by ‘becoming’ Lee Nelson, Dr Omprakesh etc in front of his audience while talking them through the process while has a Fringe act been more innovative with an onstage transformation. As she starts to pull ‘conservative’ trousers and shirt over her cocktail dress during a rendition of ‘Defying Gravity’, her voice starts to wilt and struggle. By the time the lipstick has been shoddily applied, Colleen has fully morphed into the malapropic Miranda.
Later she will do a magic trick with a sword going in and out of her neck which also causes her vocal abilities to either hit the highs or plumb the lows. These moments where the character flirts with reality are far more intriguing than the actual comedy Miranda Sings produces. She partakes her wisdom to the younger members of the crowd about everything from porn to ‘self-isteam’ and offers one lucky fan a singing lesson.
Perhaps an admission that a full hour of this might be stretching it, Miranda lets some of her YouTube clips do the talking as a compilation of her songs and funny bits are screened. The ‘Mirfandas’ are left in ecstasy as the images they first experienced on their own are fully shared among this disparate community. And, with the consent of Colleen / Miranda herself, the shaky live footage of the show captured on mobiles and iPads will be enjoyed by them over and over again.
EICC, 0844 847 1639, until 17 Aug, 6.30pm, £20.