The Optimist Arrives in Salford Quays – Jen Brister review

By Isaac Stacey Stronge

Positive attitude isn’t something that naturally emanates from comedian Jen Brister’s catalogue of work, whether it be talking about the trials and tribulations of parenthood or the hurdles of ageing, so the title of the show, The Optimist, may come as a shock to her existing fans.

They need not fear that the Live at the Apollo star is setting off in a new direction, as it’s quickly revealed within the show that the title serves as an irony on the core themes of her performance.

Gliding past the sizeable queue for the ladies and straight into the empty gents before the show initially had me wondering whether I was the target audience for the show.

These feelings only intensified with the silence that followed supporting act Maureen Younger’s request for a young man in the audience to base her premise on.

None of this served to dampen the laughter that ensued.

Jen Brister, over the course of an hour, glided effortlessly through the personal struggles of motherhood in the pandemic raising two young sons and onto matters more political, continually building tension in the audience and then harshly cutting through it wielding a wit-covered knife.

The show arrived at it’s close with a challenging routine about Brister’s late mother, by her own admission potentially still too raw a topic to cover in an otherwise relatively light-hearted hour, but nevertheless a powerful moment with on-stage tears undoubtedly matched in the stalls.

The Optimist tour continues through until May this year, covering mainly southern England along with Belfast and Dublin.

Limited tickets remain, available here.

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