Maddy Anholt: How to Train Your Psychopath
What is it?
A short walk from Waterloo, I find the venue of Maddy Anholt’s latest stand-up comedy show, How to Train Your Psychopath. If you’ve not been to Vaulty Towers yet, picture this: you have fallen down the rabbit hole into something between Narnia and that carnivalesque freak-show series of American Horror Story. The ceiling’s a jigsaw of Morrocan-style carpets and string fairy-lights with the occasional disembodied clown’s head and naked manakin in the corner. Like the rest of Vault Festival, it’s all energy and, in the basement theatre downstairs, Maddy Anholt performs her new show beside the completely scientifically viable ‘psych-o-meter’ and the bloodied brain of “the last man who tried to test her.”
What is it about?
How to Train Your Psychopath deciphers the mysterious world of psychopathy and controlling relationships, discussing the empaths on one end of Anholt’s ‘psych-o-meter’ and the psychopaths on the other. Look out for some familiar faces from popular culture, politics and breakfast TV shows! Through her anecdotal comedy of her dating experiences, Anholt educates the audience - with some serious tongue and cheek - on how to train the psychopath in their own lives. The ultimate and necessary lesson: get the hell out.
How did it make me feel?
Dark. Witty. Unfortunately, disorganised. It is always difficult to cultivate energy in smaller venues and it felt a little like Anholt’s performance space needed a serious caffeine injection. Reminding us that her show is a work-in-progress, Anholt prefaced her comedy by saying, “I’ve basically just opened up my junk drawer.” While humility and a little comedic improvisation can give a show colour and humanise the performer, consistently reading ones jokes off a clipboard unfortunately doesn’t inspire confidence. However, there is a glistening and important comedic topic beneath the scaffolding and ‘men at work’ signs of Anholt’s show.
Endorsed by Women’s Aid, Anholt’s analyses of problematic men she’s encountered throughout her dating life should fit into the glorious community of feminist comics appearing in recent years across popular culture. Take Iliza Shlesinger, remove some Texan and sprinkle on some Irish/Iranian, you’ve got yourself the beginnings of an empowering and hilarious female comic. But the groundwork still needs to be done.
Some serious potential shining under the scaffolding.
Maddy Anholt: How to Train Your Psychopath is playing at VAULT Festival until the 5th March 2020.
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