One of the more well-known comedians to feature at this year’s Fringe festival, Phoebe Robinson’s Sorry, Harriet Tubman is an insight into her personal life intertwined with references to black history and culture.
Starting strong, with her experience at Michelle Obama’s book tour, Robinson is engaging and is quick to draw laughs from the crowd. While entertaining, the humour Robinson engages with is often low-brow. Robinson resorts to fart jokes about her lactose intolerance while having cheese sandwiches with Michelle Obama. She then goes on to draw laughs about her sex life and her boyfriend’s uncircumcised penis. Most of Robinson’s set is on her life with her British boyfriend or “Bae” as she affectionately calls him. In fact, “Bae” makes a special appearance when Robinson unexpectedly video calls him and introduces her boyfriend to the audience. Her stories about her relationship with her boyfriend start off as cute – but it becomes a little cringe-worthy when a good portion of the set is dedicated to her dating life.
The highlight from the set and perhaps the part of the show that connects most with the title is Robinson’s experience at a political march. Her realisation that “civil rights is an outdoor activity” and not just tweeting from her bed is hilarious, and is a critique on “slacktivism” or social media activism evident in society today. While the title of her show seems to hint at engagement with civil activism, Robinson mostly focusses on her personal life, straying away from political or social commentary.
The main issue with Sorry, Harriet Tubman is the lack of an overarching theme tying the show together. The stories Robinson brings up, while entertaining, do not connect well with each other. The show ends abruptly on a bit about a controversial anal sex scene from Kingsman: The Secret Service which was critiqued when the movie came out five years ago. One would expect more from a well-known comedian like Robinson. The comedy set feels poorly written and the interludes are awkward. Robinson at several points of the set looks down at her phone or watch, which distracts the audience from the comedic routine.
Overall, Sorry, Harriet Tubman is just entertaining enough for people looking for an easy laugh.
Phoebe Robinson: Sorry, Harriet Tubman is on at Assembly George Square Studios – Studio Three
Runs until August 26th
Buy tickets here
Image: Mindy Tucker