One of my few claims to fame is that I’ve supported Rachel Parris at a comedy gig back when I did stand up several years ago, though it was a mixed bill that I was only on as a good friend was running the night. The reason I bring this up (bar egotism) was that it was the first time I saw Parris perform but I instantly became a huge fan of her smart and very funny comedy. She’s also a member of the all kinds of fantastic improv group Austentatious, so I was pretty certain that I was going to enjoy this 2017 stand up special from her.
What I didn’t know until I began watching it was that she’s also a musical comedian, and an enormously talented one at that. I’m a huge fan of the genre and there are a lot of musical comedians around right now, but for my money Parris is the best in the UK and that would be the world if it weren’t for the existence of Rachel Bloom. I just hope that this doesn’t lead to Parris killing her to take the mantle – I’m fairly certain she’s not the murderous type but you can never really know for sure.
Beginning the set with a song that she was commissioned to write for a friend’s thirtieth birthday party it starts with the lyric “Once you’re thirty you’re basically dead” and just gets funnier from there on in. Unlike too many comedy songs it’s not one which starts off straight and then has a predictable twist, it’s mirth inducing stuff from the get go and that applies to the majority of Parris’s songs as well. She’s also a dab hand at the stand up side of things, as she explains how she recently broke up with her boyfriend and ended up corresponding with the Samaritans via email. Each missive is packed with great jokes and lines about the demise of her relationship, with “It was mutual, to my surprise”, a wry comment about how All The Single Ladies had 12 writers, and an ongoing gag about her slightly rubbish Godson Peter being the strongest, but there isn’t anything within the hour that doesn’t hit home with delightful effect.
However great her stand up is it’s the songs I loved the most though, and each song contains some beautifully funny moments, from one about her friend Fran and how at weddings “I don’t want the fucking bouquet” to “Hen Do On A Train” which she has to clarify is nothing about Hindu’s as some offended audience members have claimed in the past. There’s also a fantastic number concerning what to do if you’re getting older and not yet had children, a paean to the fact that she once went to the gym that sounds like a big Disney track and which Parris sings the hell out of, and she ends the set with a wondrous song looking back on her dreams and how she realises they no longer make any sense.
It’s the kind of set which I wish I’d seen live and is a truly remarkable show, the songs are sublime and her stand up is too. It makes me wish that a tv channel would give her the money to create her own musical comedy series (or at the very least someone would fund a stage musical) because I have no doubt it’d be amazing, and hopefully that will happen one day soon, but in the meantime we’ll have to make do with her live shows and tv appearances and just cherish those instead.