ASHLEY BARNHILL: TEXAS TITANIUM at The Museum of Comedy
“How are we the only eight people to know about this gem of a gig?”
No matter how funny the comedian, how well-versed and confident, playing to an audience of five (eventually bolstered by three more latecomers) is an unfair fight.
But that doesn’t appear to stop Ashley Barnhill from winning her fun-sized crowd over with her hyper-sexualism, casual antagonism and just the small fact that she was hit by a car, knocked into a coma and now has a titanium skull.
It’s a lot of pressure for a small stand-up audience- the sound of the crowd is so vital to a good time- and while Ashley is warming up, the amused, but quiet smiles threaten to set the tone. But after just a few minutes, it feels less like a weak turn-out a more like an exclusive experience. How are we the only eight people to know about this gem of a gig?
“I’m trying to be less of an arsehole”, she repeatedly tells us, only to illustrate exactly why that’s an extremely unlikely goal. Ashley is shocking, yes, but it seems so completely honest that even if I’m a little scandalised at moments, I’m also completely on side. Chuckling devilishly before delivering her most controversial punchlines- “pro-lifers are just jealous they don’t know what it’s like to kill a baby”- she’s clearly amusing herself as much as anyone else.
The set is a little US-centric, which, playing to a British audience, is always going to be a harder sell. But for the most part, America’s issues are our issues too: the Me Too movement, Karens, abortion rights, paedophilia. It might sound very political, but Ashley’s commentary is sardonic to the extreme and entirely without loyalties.
Currently part of the Camden Fringe run, you’ve got one more chance to see Ashley in London before she heads off to Edinburgh, where she will no doubt kill, even if she’s only playing to the sound engineer. For the love of comedy, give this woman an audience! She’s earned it.
ASHLEY BARNHILL: TEXAS TITANIUM at the Museum of Comedy
Reviewed on 9th August 2023
by Miriam Sallon
Photography by Nick Asokan
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