Somewhere in the future Geordie comedy hall of fame, there’s a plinth reserved for Sarah Millican.
Sure, she’d be the first to admit she’s technically a Sand-dancer, hailing downstream of the Tyne and from South Shields as she does, but nevertheless; sitting spotlit between Scarlet O’Hara and Bobby Thompson, just across the corridor from Viz and Auf Wiedersehn Pet, there’ll be bronze of our Sarah.
While today’s North East is no longer the soot-blackened, grimly industrial place of yesteryear, little waster Thompson and local lady muck O’Hara would both be in their element regardless. In their now stunningly transformed cosmopolis the urbane Geordie of the 21st century is as lippy as ever, directing fresh new nags at waspish Waitrose regulars, hawty hipsters, cardigan-clad culturehounds, strident students, too-cool real ale bars and artisanal Greggs pasties.
You can take the troubles out of the Toon but you can’t take the sardonic cheek out of the seasoned Geordie, and our Sarah carries forward that special legacy of uniquely cantankerous local comedy.
Sarah remains on stellar form and in endearingly fine fettle
Mining the seam of warm smutty humour unique to the people born within spitting distance of the Tyne, Sarah is your mam’s dirty, funny friend; tumbling through life flush-faced and flustered, forever calling you flower with a wink and a nod, and popping round to top up her tannin with never-ending cups of builder’s best tea.
Back at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House for a run of homecoming shows, Sarah remains on stellar form and in endearingly fine fettle, whether getting slapped in the face by steaming pastie-hot dog turds, enduring sensitive ladybits invigorated by bubbly bathbombs, triumphantly trumping in front of a troubled masseuse, or moving to the countryside only to find herself balancing pride in becoming the lady of the house with the shame of the incriminating, bobbing terrors of the shared septic tank next door.
Sarah’s boundless warm charm was bolstered too by some invigorating fuck-you feminism; the kind that leaves body-shaming shop assistants gobsmacked and celebrates a successful middle-aged woman triumphantly comfortable in her own skin.
lurid tales of days endlessly peppered with barely-endured and improbable palavers
Way back in the North East of the late seventies, former singer-turned-comic Scarlett O’Hara was one of the few women braving the heavily male world of the local smoke-fugged comedy clubs. Telling tales of plucky resolve in the face of debt and dole typical to that time and place, it’s sweetly satisfying to see Millican transplanting that same unbreakable, brazen attitude to a region changed immeasurably for the better; the local dilemmas transformed from worrying about how to put food on the table to maintaining your marital dignity during post-curry sex.
Her plinth in the Geordie Hall of Fame guaranteed, Sarah continues to be one of the finest popular comics working today, male or otherwise. Armed no doubt with even more lurid tales of days endlessly peppered with barely-endured and improbable palavers, she’ll be back in Newcastle in September to round off her smash-hit Outsider tour.
Leigh Venus at Tyne Theatre and Opera House, 31 July 2016
Shortened version originally published at Narc Magazine Online
Photos: Sarah Millican