A ‘Coming Out’ show is pretty much a right of passage for gay comedians, and why not? The situation is ripe for angst, confusion, drama and hopefully liberation. What helps make Geraldine Hickey’s show so fascinating is that we have seen her performing for years and it has taken her until the age of 32 to finally make the big leap.
Geraldine comes out to the audience up front in her usual style of self depreciating jokes and little fuss. On her opening night there were a few nerves but as she takes us back to her childhood looking for what seem now to be very obvious clues to her sexuality, she relaxes and gets into her comedy rhythm perfected over years of comedy gigs. She tells some lovely stories about her family, the funniest of which also brings out a political side to Geraldine we’ve never seen which was a description of her sister’s bogan wedding that was trashy as all get out. I also enjoyed tales of her close childhood relationship with her brother which brought back memories of her 2007 show about her big, close family Trucker’s Daughter.
That’s the thing with Geraldine, she’s done so much comedy about her life experiences that we feel like we know her. She’s so earthy and honest about herself yet loving women remained taboo. I think she was the first woman I’d heard use the expression ‘I love cock’ and I figured that it sounded like a phrase she’d made up to get a laugh. I’ve never heard a woman off the stage say that & it grated. She may not have been the first but since then I’ve heard other female comedians use the same expression and it always turns me off because it doesn’t ring true. So it has been even more interesting to learn that Geraldine in fact does not love cock and it has all been a lot of bluff and bravado. It is also what makes this show so brave.
Although it gets passing mention simply as her debut festival show, one can’t help but wonder if 2006’s One Week in Paradise about her depression, self harm & spending a week in an acute psychiatric unit might be closely tied up with her denied sexuality. Geraldine has obviously decided not to go there, perhaps with the aim of making this coming out more of a celebration. One of the really surprising things is that she did attempt to come out in her twenties but was intimidated by the more judgemental quarters of the young gay community as well as her religious, rural family and friends.
The best part of the show is of course the actually coming out to her family, you will need tissues. Importantly though nothing has really changed in her comedy, Geraldine still greets us with ‘Sup Fuckers and has a filthy mouth and a naughty twinkle in her eye while she pumps out the punchlines. She’s also always been a warm, intelligent, storyteller and the only faults I could find with this were a shaky nervous start and a rather abrupt ending. For those looking for comedy with soul this would be one of the top picks of the festival this year.
Geraldine Hickey – Turns Out I Do Like Sun Dried Tomatoes is on at The Portland Hotel