Jay Lafferty: Bahookie (touring) ★★★★★

BBC’s Breaking the News star Jay Lafferty spins the unlikely combination of comedy and pole dancing in the tour of her Edinburgh Fringe hit, Bahookie.

It’s not unusual, in fact it’s very much a norm, for comedians to mine their hang-ups, personal battles, and self doubt to spark their stand-up. What is rather less commonplace, however, is to do so under the influence of an erotic dancer’s pole! But this is where we find ourselves with Bahookie, Greenock-born comedian Jay Lafferty’s hilarious recounting of how she dealt with turning 40. 

Returning to Edinburgh as part of a limited UK run, after it played to packed venues and superb reviews during last year’s Fringe, Bahookie sees Lafferty detail her bid to combat the effects of that milestone birthday by, amongst other things, empowerment via pole dancing.

Image by Rod Penn

So, we go through vignettes dedicated to the likes of self-help diaries, the outrage provoked by targeted advertising, engaging a life coach, her relationship with her son, always trying to find the joy in life and, of course, giving it pole action for the first time. 

A not-insignificant supporting player in all this is Dan, her dancing instructor. His fish wife barbs, played as audio clips, are frequent highlights of a set that fairly rollocks along. “You look like a bag’a’washin’, hen!” is typical of the coaching ‘technique’ employed. (It is to the delight of the audience when it is revealed that the man himself is actually in attendance at this particular performance.)

A regular compere on the compilation show circuit, Lafferty’s skill at tapping her audiences for material is very much apparent. Once the obligatory “What’s your name?” etc. caper is dealt with, her explorations of ‘And how have you bettered yourself?’, to keep the improvement theme going, elicit big laughs. She is always cheeky, sometimes delightfully so, but never cruel with it.

Lafferty’s roots mean that she punts a ‘pure dead magic’ line in ‘wee Glasga wummin’ humour. Indeed, Bahookie offers the audience the unlikely mash-up of The Steamie and Showgirls that you never knew you needed.

If some of the more localised banter possibly baffled international audience members, Bahookie always teased the possibility of whether the prop pole was going to be actually engaged. Given the publicity shots, it’s not too much of a spoiler to reveal that some wraparound action does occur. Lafferty is apparently not in the business of anti-climaxes. (Most unlike her uproariously recounted experience of losing her virginity on a boat!) But the manner in which it does happen is undoubtedly a highlight. 

A gifted comic writer, and an effortlessly charismatic presence, Jay Lafferty’s Bahookie offers a deliciously winning combination of punchlines, pathos and pole dancing. 

Reviewed at Monkey Barrel Comedy Club, Edinburgh on Sunday, 3 March, 2024

Lafferty spins comedy gold – ★★★★★ 5 stars

Jay Lafferty: Bahookie Tickets

Jay Lafferty's Bahookie tour:

29 Mar 2024 - GLASGOW, The Garage (Live Recording)
Fri 31 May 2024 - LONDON, Soho Theatre
Sat 1 Jun 2024 - LONDON, Soho Theatre
Sun 13 Oct 2024 - MANCHESTER, The Frog & Bucket

Fri 6 Sep 2024 - EAST KILBRIDE, East Kilbride Arts Centre
Sat 7 Sep 2024 - HAWICK, Heart of Hawick
Sat 14 Sep 2024 - GIFFNOCK, Eastwood Park Theatre
Thu 26 Sep 2024 - INVERNESS, Eden Court
Fri 27 Sep 2024 - GREENOCK, Beacon Arts Centre
Sat 28 Sep 2024 - PERTH, Perth Theatre
Fri 11 Oct 2024 - AYR, Gaiety Theatre

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