Pernille Haaland: Scandilous
This reviewer doesn’t often watch comedy, and never sober. Pernille Haaland’s whirlwind feminist monologue-cum-motivational-speech was made for a giggly glass of wine with the girls or a pre-date warm-up. It wouldn’t have been so comfortable being part of the family in the front row, but then again, comedy rarely is a family show.
Haaland had a knack for quickly breaking down boundaries without making the audience feel uncomfortable (except perhaps the father-daughter situation), almost like a friend’s friend who you meet once and feel like you’ve known forever. She swiftly had the audience wrapped around her somewhat frantically moving hands, never picking on people as comedians often do, but simply inviting them to take a personal interest in her rather personal experiences.
She occupied the intimate venue with an enthusiasm disproportionate to the size of the room, but not unsuited to her high-energy, if at times hectic, performance style. Fully embracing her somewhat caricatured persona, Haaland owned comedy’s performative nature, impressively racing through her 50-minute performance at full speed. Her forte was in her characterisation and storytelling; she used voice and accent for embellishment and never gratuitously. Whilst she was open about her “work in progress” style, peeking at some performance notes so that she might finally take a breath, she often used unusual, exaggerated noises and confusing facial expressions as conjunctions, which evoked a self-consciousness that shattered her carefully constructed genuineness.
The authenticity of her performance lay in her crude openness about her body and sexuality, a freedom which in 2020 is always welcome, but, here, sometimes failed to be empowering. I concede, however, that being a female comedian is always contentious in terms of feminism, and it can be hard to find the balance between man-hating and self-mockery. Haaland did have a tendency for slightly confused, quasi-feminist jokes and ironically problematic comments, and while, she had some banging one-liners which cut to the core of modern culture, her 30-something-ironically-feminist-man-hating-but-I’m-still-available monologue didn’t quite hit the Fleabag mark. Indeed, her angle was slightly lacking in originality. Unfortunately the boy-chat and “’m still single and my mother’s worried” jokes aren’t new to feminist comedy. Having said that, she artfully manipulated the all too familiar female experience, although through a somewhat narrow lens, to evoke moments of realness that garnered a “hear, hear” from the majority white female crowd.
Photo: © Pernille Haaland
Read more reviews from our Vault Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Vault Festival website here.