‘I can’t believe I’m telling you this either, guys,’ says Sara Pascoe, after the audience gasp at her explanation of sperm competition theory. It’s apt that the modest comic’s Fringe venue is a converted lecture theatre, as we learn a great deal in this fascinating hour, and the sexual evolution of the human race is a big topic. But no lecturer could teach a class with as much passion, honesty and relentless wit as Sara Pascoe.
Not that ‘Sara Pascoe vs History’ is too academic or school-teachery, far from it. Her ‘history’ theme refers to her own past as her much as the planet’s; her teenage years, fantasising about marrying Take That members and getting very direct sexual talks from her mum. But every piece of research, every article she’s read or fact she’s learned, has been digested, thought over meticulously and then presented with a smart, offbeat opinion attached.
The show’s other focus is the 33-year-old comic’s relationship with her boyfriend, who’s also a comedian. They have been together for 11 months, and Pascoe is desperately in love. So much so, she struggles to describe it without slipping into cliché. But the TV regular is never sickeningly sentimental or loved-up, she’s simply talking directly and honestly. Indeed, she’s frank about their relationship (a bit too frank, her partner would say), weighing up the difficulties of reaching her sexual peak while her boyfriend’s is on a downward slope. ‘Relationships’ is a familiar topic, but Pascoe’s thoughts have greater purpose – she shares her personal experiences to back-up her weighty ideas.
Elsewhere, the smart stand-up deconstructs Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ (not exactly a comedy first, but she has fresh, intelligent points to make) and explains her novel idea to alter Page 3, rather than eradicate it, in order to solve the paradox of unemployed models.
Big belly-laughs are sporadic, but well-crafted jokes come in quick succession, and Pascoe’s a master at explaining big, complex ideas without any sense of superiority – she’ll often undermine her own intelligence with a daft gag or silly pop culture reference.
If she ever wants to take a different career path, Pascoe could be any teenager’s new favourite teacher. But that would be a big loss for stand-up, and comedy audiences would be a whole lot more stupid.
‘Sara Pascoe vs History’ is at Assembly George Square Studios, 8.15pm