(This blog originally appeared in What’s On Stage)
The Daily Telegraph called Scottish comedienne Janey Godley “the most outspoken female stand-up in Britain… The most ribald and refreshing comedy talent to have risen from the slums of Glasgow since Billy Connolly.”
The Scotsman called her “Scotland’s funniest woman… the Godmother of Scottish Comedy” and talked of her “effortless stream-of-consciousness riffs that Virginia Woolf might have written.”
I’m not sure about the Virgina Woolf comparison. In my opinion, Virginia Woolf wasn’t that good.
But what Janey doesn’t get recognised for is being one of the best comedy improvisors of her generation – because people don’t realise that she has never – and I mean never even roughly – scripted any of her hour-long comedy shows.
At the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe, she performed a show called Caught In The Act of Being Myself. This got, reportedly, 12 visits from Perrier Award panel members and, after a big bust-up of opinion among the panel, her performance was disqualified from consideration because they decided she was ad-libbing a totally different show every night so, technically, the Fringe run was not the performance of a specific single show.
This year she has almost outdone herself. She didn’t know what the content of her comedy show The Godley Hour was even when she walked on stage on the first night yesterday; not even when she was halfway through. She told her first night audience: “I’m hearing this for the first time too.”
Today, she told me three of the previously untold stories she included in that first night show and which she will try to include every night in the full run of the show – and they were cracking crack-up and fall-down-clutching-your-stomach and kicking-your legs-in-the-air anecdotes.
There was a national newspaper critic in the first night audience. I will await the newspaper review with interest.