I was really sick when I went to see Celia Pacquola’s stand-up show The Looking Glass. Like, high-on-cold-and-flu-tablets-running-a-fever-nursing-cough-drops-in-my-lap-in-case-a-coughing-fit-happened-in-the-middle-of-the-show type sick. I didn’t want to be there, and I didn’t want to laugh. Luckily for me, though, Pacquola’s warm, sharp, introspective comedy pulled me from my funk and I giggled along from beginning to end.
Pacquola’s main topic is her singledom. She’s fine with it, she says, with variations on this theme taking us from Tinder dates to cat cafes and everywhere in between. The show is mostly one of introspection, though (hence the name). There is nothing that connects people quicker than schadenfreude, and Pacquola knows this. Her generosity and ability to laugh at herself is a real catalyst in getting even the most reluctant audience members chuckling.
Using herself as the epicentre of commentary works well in this show, as it allows Pacquola to navigate the absurd beliefs society holds about single women, while never straying into overtly political territory and risking losing the audience. A hilarious and cutting critique of Miranda Kerr’s book Treasure Yourself – aimed at young women with self-esteem issues – is about as overt as we get on the social commentary front, but it is a sharp, funny and seamless addition.
Pacquola’s real strength is her ability to connect with her audience. She is open and generous, riffing on the audience’s reactions as she goes. We didn’t give the laugh she was expecting? She calls us on it, makes light of it and barrels on through. Her ability to read the room and make comments on, for example, the fact that all the women in the room are willing her to shut up about, say, the perils of farting on someone’s genitals when you’re being spooned. “No!” she tells us, “it’s time they knew!”. This unscripted, meta-commentary makes you feel as though she is with you, not against you, and it is this genuine friendliness that gets you on-side and giggling non-stop (even if you are sick).
Pacquola is a comedian who you just know will continue raise the bar year after year. The Looking Glass is an endearing show that is sure to delight.