Respect is tough to acquire, and businesswomen understand this better than most. Traditionally, success within male-dominated fields has required them to compromise their feminine identity, to sacrifice parts of themselves for access to mainstream success. But Jamie Loftus’ hysterical and off-kilter show is here to correct such systemic discrimination, using a keynote address from her self-described “Girl Boss” character, the surveillance-technology CEO ‘Shell Gasoline-Sandwich’. Here, Shell instructs the audience how to be a successful feminist and capitalist, even if accidentally admitting to some war crimes she might have committed along the way.
Loftus’ hilarious and absurd act takes the audience through empowering self-help guides (including “Sluts for Big Pharma”) and Shell’s intense daily routine (where she shouts “Hustle!” into her mirror until it shatters). The underlying joke being how her corporate jargon, feminist empowerment and millennial slang are merely a mask to disguise her malevolent capitalist agenda. Although here it’s a mask so surreal and extreme that it becomes transparent, Loftus mercilessly satirising the “woke-sploitation” found in modern business, depowering it through over-exposure.
The theatrical stand-up is aided by audience participation, with Loftus deftly handling bewildered guests, and occasional interference from Shell’s user-data collecting, and increasingly self-aware AI assistant ‘Patricia’. Remarkably, despite these asides and Shell’s unexpected tangential rants, everything fits within the controlled ‘reality’ Loftus has created. Her humour is certainly strange, and frequently shocking, but not in an aggressive or outrageous way, nor is it pure and unfiltered anarchy designed for confusion. Loftus is simply committed to her own unique style.
This confidence is what is most admirable about the show, and at the root of its success. From the incredibly precise scenarios, Shell describes, to her nonchalant but self-assured delivery, which wonderfully juxtaposes the increasingly insane things she says. The style is most comparable to the low-key commitment to ridiculous business ventures found within Nathan For You, or sometimes it’s similar to a more comedic Nightcrawler, given the facade of corporate lingo. But Boss, Whom is Girl is most recommendable because there is little else like it, and everyone should see this innovative form of comedy for themselves.
Of course, all comedy is subjective, and some likely will just not ‘get’ Loftus’ show, a fate that is unfortunate but not unreasonable. Being uncompromising means not everyone can be on board, but Loftus’ consideration and commitment make it extremely worthwhile for those who can. Perhaps, despite the intense ridicule for the businesswomen who hide behind fake feminism, Loftus respects their refusal to compromise – except maybe their morality. They can be just as heartless as the men. So while the show shows the posturing and fake empowerment within modern business, enveloping the audience within a surreal reality of escalating in-jokes, the laughter is all very real.
Jamie Loftus: Boss, Whom is Girl is on at Pleasance Courtyard – Baby Grand (Venue 33)
Until August 25th – 22:45
Tickets available here
Photo credit: Callie Biggerstaff