12 December 2007
Tanya Raabe caught the preview of Liz Carr’s first one-woman play at Arena Theatre Wolverhampton, December 2007
It Hasn’t Happened Yet! is a new comedy about comedy that asks just who and what a disabled comedian can actually laugh at these days...
We are introduced to Liz Carr’s first solo play It Hasn’t Happened Yet… by creative director Hue Thomas. In true comedy style Hue warms up the audience by telling us the play is in its embryonic stages of development and this performance is the first, so not to worry if it all goes pear-shaped… well there certainly was not a hope in hell of that happening.
This show was one of the best pieces of disability theatre I have seen in a long time. Liz’s performance was incredibly powerful as she used strong disability language, phrases, attitude and humour to tell a story based on her experiences of the trials and tribulations of working as a comedian on the comedy circuit in what seems to be seedy working-men type clubs. This is a refreshing perspective not seen before.
The stage is set: Liz is in her dressing room, furnished with a round silver table and bar stool, waiting to go on stage. At the side is the mike and stand representing the comedy stage - a clean, uncompromising look that was perfect for what was to come.
I loved the use of audio for the voices of the characters Liz encounters in the club. This technique created great impact, particularly during the fight scene where the compere's attitude towards having a crippled comedian incites verbal fisty-cuffs. The audience has to make its own visualisations. I could just see him as she describes: ‘fat and sweaty’. This scene was reminiscent of comedy clubs in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, that I experienced as a child, waiting for my parents in changing rooms in run-down theatres on the cabaret circuit.
The story leads us into questioning whether disability comedy is funny, acceptable, and viable as part of the genre and the catalyst for this is a court scene. Liz is charged with inciting abusive disability comedy and as a punishment she is sent to comedy school to be retrained in how to tell normal jokes. I thought this was a great way of opening the debate about how and by whom disability comedy is delivered.
Someone told me once that comedy is the hardest genre to break. Liz breaks comedy boundaries with this show and I’m still laughing just thinking about it.
If you’ve never heard a fish disability joke, this play is a must for you. Liz shows us that behind closed doors the world of comedy is truly a disabling world - discriminating, frightening, yet hilariously funny.