As a comedian, Tamar Broadbent is gorgeously awkward and real. Her brand of musical comedy may not deal with the big social, political or economic issues going on in the world today, but that makes it no less relevant to a millennial audience. Body confidence and acceptance of non-stereotypes are the order of the day here, but they’re done with a smile and a couple of major chords. Broadbent asks us to Get Ugly and she won’t take no for an answer.
It’s clear that Broadbent is a Londoner as many of her references and quips relate to the big smoke. It still works (mainly because so many of the London scene migrates to Edinburgh for the month) but there may be parts that divide the crowd because of it. “Hipster Without Cause” is particularly Shoreditch-central, but Broadbent is able to wash over these with powerful, witty rhyming couplets, a positive attitude and some spot-on observational comedy. It’s clear she is completely fluent with her material – there are no awkward pauses as she collects her thoughts or awkwardly segues between segments.
Audience participation in this kind of show is a must – it fosters trust and community spirit in a safe environment. The poor man that is brought onstage receives a backhanded compliment as he accompanies Broadbent in “Hot Face, Weird Voice”, using only a recorder as a supporting instrument. It’s a risk to open the stage up to non-professionals, but Broadbent has the skill, confidence and audience backing to pull it off with ease.
It all turns a bit serious when Broadbent commits the ultimate social faux pas for the digital age – liking the Facebook photo of an ex from years ago. Here we are greeted with an Avril Lavigne-style angst backing, where before we were firmly in Britney Spears territory for the social commentary on “Sexy Gym Girl”. Both are equally successful, reminiscent of youth dancing around the bedroom and the accompanying adult embarrassment.
The majority of the songs however are uplifting, a proclamation to embrace the “ugliness” within, especially as a newly single individual. Broadbent certainly takes musical inspiration from Stephen Schwartz – major chord progressions with open fifths, key changes and reinforcing harmonic thirds all remind us of “Defying Gravity”. The difference is in the lyrics – Disney never spoke about STD checks or being caught off-guard meeting a hot guy on a no-makeup day (more’s the pity frankly).
In the end, the ex may have a new partner, but you will always have something they don’t. In Broadbent’s case, it’s a driving licence. She proudly announces it as an everyday girl version of Taylor Swift, much to our delight. Get Ugly is an instruction to cast asides worries and doubts, focus on having fun and enjoying the here and now. Broadbent’s show embraces these ideas fully.
Get Ugly plays Underbelly Med Quad as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 until 28 August 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.