Evelyn Mok: Bubble Butt

Evelyn Mok.jpg

Pleasance Courtyard
August 6-26

Material:three-stars.png Delivery: three-stars.png  Laughs: three-stars.png

Evelyn Mok has an unusual, languid stage presence that augured well when she first came on to stage. Those who are familiar with her past material will know her jokes revolve around personal themes of identity and body image while growing up Swedish of Chinese parentage, resulting in some heavy self-doubt as a result. This show dips into that same well. There were certainly some golden nuggets, but a full hour without quite enough material ended up feeling patchy and too drawn out, especially towards the end when the show really began to lose its momentum. The experience ends up being one part comedy and two parts confessional, which some people will find refreshing, but it won’t be every comedy aficionado’s cup of tea.

There were some stand out jokes that were genuinely funny, and the middle part of the show was well structured and tied up neatly together. She was able to make us laugh at the absurdity of being at the harsh end of the ‘bamboo stick’, that had come all the way from China, like a sick and twisted family heirloom, and certainly a contrast to her Scandinavian schoolmates’ liberal parenting experience. Her lacklustre and awkward dating experiences after coming relatively late to the game made us laugh too, blaming God for not listening to her heartfelt prayers for a good shag.

Mok uses the time for some serious political observations such as the lack of women abusers in the #MeToo movement. She squeezed some comedic material out of asking us to imagine our female ‘national treasures’ like Maggie Smith being sexually aggressive to young men, because the idea seems so incongruous and unfathomable. Little digs at the white middle class punters were received gracefully, as she poked fun at racist ideas of Chinese people and British colonialism. She teased that white people were to blame for creating a situation where Black Barbie is the cheapest one in the Swedish store. It just created an even greater identity crisis when her penny-pinching father brought the unwanted doll home as a gift, minus all the cool accessories that White Barbie or even the panda that Asian Barbie came with. She could have really gone to town with some of this material, like her being a cheap Asian fetish for 50 year old white men who can’t afford a Thai bride. She certainly has potential, and once she fleshes out her act and makes the most of her material she could be a very refreshing and important figure on the comedy circuit.

Mok tested us with a sideways joke about Jimmy Saville and the audience visibly shivered. She impressed upon us that she loves to make her audiences uncomfortable. However, at this point the bated breath in the room belied a fearful anticipation that things were going to descend into unnecessarily murky and uncomfortable waters. The jokes began to thin out more and more and the monologue became more like a rambling, unedited confessional on Oprah. Yet by this stage in the proceedings, the audience had warmed to her personality, bravery and vulnerability. Only the cruellest of punters would think of heckling her at this point, so everyone perhaps felt compelled to be respectful and listen to her circulating some needed air around some of her most painful childhood stories. Being open and honest about difficult subjects will help us all. It all lightens up again with ridiculous nonsense just before the end, but I won’t spoil the experience of her quirky ‘special song’.

Lisa Williams



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