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© Mark Dawson

Ellie White – Humans review

Viva Mexico

By Ben Williams

Best to eat before heading to Ellie White’s lunchtime show. The character comic’s venue is the basement of a Mexican restaurant – she shares her room with a taco stand. And, if I had to compare White’s comedy to Mexican food (I don’t) I’d say it’s more ‘medium-spicy’ than ‘extra hot’.

White doesn’t say anything as herself. The only words she shares out of character are projected on to a screen. She explains at the top of the show, through PowerPoint, that her parents are in the audience. This is their first time seeing her perform. In fact, they didn’t know she was a comedian until this moment.

It’s a nice set-up but, strangely, White doesn’t develop it any further. There’s no mention of her folks again until the show’s end, when she simply says (again, through the projector) that she hopes they enjoyed it. While this detail gets lost, it’s the small traits of White’s characters that bring them to life. Her creations each have smartly underplayed quirks, and subtlest of all is Rebecca, the sole contestant in the Miss Haringey 2014 competition. She’s nervous, frightened and barely speaks above a whisper, but tries to convince us that she has a ‘bubbly’ personality. The show’s strongest character, though, is a jittery, drunk mother giving a speech at an eighteenth birthday party. She’s pleasingly embarrassing and the skit has a neat payoff.

White’s principal character is Aileen Gas, an over-confident life coach. The comedy world really doesn’t need another spoof motivational speaker spouting pompous life-advice and talking in shoddy metaphors. While White’s version has some sharp lines, she doesn’t bring anything new to the life-guru table.

Gas returns later in the show, as does Rebecca (I didn’t catch her surname, it was said so quietly), this time as an equally timid air hostess. It’s not clear why these two characters, not the others, get a second viewing. Neither is there much development of them to deserve the repetition. But there’s plenty of promise in ‘Humans’. White’s a delicate performer and she has some nifty ideas. The show itself, though, is underdeveloped. Three chillies out of five.​

‘Ellie White – Humans’ is at Viva Mexico, 2.30pm

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