Beth Vyse: As Funny as Cancer
Emphasising triumph over tragedy as a cancer scare gets short comedic shrift
This article is from 2015.
Did you hear the one about the woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer, then had one of her boobs lopped off? It’s a hoot! One of a string of shows at this year’s Fringe to tackle very serious – and deeply personal – subject matter through the medium of stand-up comedy (euthanasia, irritable bowel syndrome and amputation are all getting a look-in elsewhere), Beth Vyse’s show focuses on the bombshell that was dropped on her five years ago.
Just 28 at the time, Vyse was juggling a portfolio career of acting and comedy when her boyfriend noticed a lump while they were in bed together. Tests confirmed her fears, and she underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy before being given the all-clear last year. It’s a powerful punchline, that’s for damn sure. Yet the set-up to her harrowing yet absurdly told true story begins in signature style as she greets her incoming audience dressed as Dolly Parton with gargantuan plastic bosom and wig, then babbling chirpily through easy patter about her upbringing in Stoke-On-Trent.
There are props for the crowd too (ping pong balls for a frenzied ejaculation scene, among others) with the interactive elements seemingly dropped in to grease the wheels for what could be a tense hour. She’s determined to give her show a triumphant rather than tragic tone though, and explains that writing it was her way of ‘coming out’ after keeping her cancer secret for a long time: ‘it’s the first thing people think about you when they find out’.
Now she’s preferring not to take herself too seriously. As she gleefully stabs an oversize inflatable boob with a pin, popping it loudly, before leading a Rod Stewart singalong, she’s serious about making light of one of the shitter hands that life tried to deal her.
Heroes @ The Hive, 226 0000, until 30 Aug (not 18), 4.20pm, £5 (or Pay What You Want).