Watching Helen Duff bounce around the stage, you can’t help but wonder whether the comedian has somehow managed to harness the collective stamina of a professional athletics team. Her energy is endless and boundless, and it’s a joy to behold. She is the very definition of vibrancy.
When the Going Gets Duff is a dazzling exercise in fast-paced, lively comedy. “If you’re looking for a linear narrative, leave now,” she tells her audience, hinting at the disjointed nature of the show. What plays out onstage certainly is fragmented, but this works in Duff’s favour. The muddled, stream-of-consciousness style contributes to the overall charm of the set, and it even gives Duff the opportunity to improvise a delightful ditty about the lack of structure in her performance. The self-awareness exhibited over the hour is totally genius.
The content of When the Duff Gets Going is bold and honest and unapologetic. Duff talks about everything from contraception to the alignment of one’s chakras. She doles out anecdotes related to her childhood and ponders the extent to which events from her past have affected her. She interrupts herself, she randomly bursts into song, and she has a tendency to go off on a tangent – and it’s all part of the fun.
Duff has an electric personality that seeps into every aspect of her onstage work. Her sincerity and silliness make for a fun-filled hour you won’t want to miss. By the time the show’s over, you’ll probably find that some of her unbridled enthusiasm has rubbed off on you, too.
Words: Morgan Laing
Picture: Matthew Highton
Helen Duff: When the Going Gets Duff, Assembly Roxy, Aug 18-27, 7.35pm