Review: So Brave, Madeleine Stewart – Sydney Comedy Festival (NSW) 

Reviewed by Vaanie Krishnan

Accompanied by a sign language interpreter, Madeline Stewart’s show So Brave, explores what it means to find love, romantic and otherwise, when the world insists that you are different. Described as your average one-handed girl looking for love in a two-handed world, Stewart’s show is thoughtful and honest.  

Stewart is exhausted from being put on a pedestal and told she is “inspiring”. She doesn’t want to be brave; she doesn’t want to be funny; she really doesn’t want to be courageous; she just wants what every other girl wants, to be sexy AF.  Madeline regales stories of her adventures on Tinder, the time she was a nude model for an art class, her step-father’s misogynistic dating advice and her romantic one-night stands.  

In the duskily lit Factory Theatre floor, Madeline Stewart introduces herself from backstage, describing in great detail (for all the vision impaired people in the audience) her “too-tight-she-will-not-be-bending-over” jumpsuit.  

In “So Brave”, Stewart intelligently balances the serious with the funny but in a lot of places, the humour gets lost. Interspersed with jokes about tinder swiping are some very real, very serious issues around ableism. When joking about being cat-called, “don’t I have the right to be harassed by everyone else?” Stewart’s tone switches so she can explicitly remind us of the statistics of sexual violence against those with a disability (9 out of 10 women).  I enjoyed learning and hearing her perspective, but those who were expecting a light-hearted laugh may have found themselves challenged. 

Whether she realises it or not, Stewart has pioneered a new kind of inclusive stand-up. The use of a sign language interpreter creates a third dimension to her story-telling that is a stroke of genius and should be included in all shows going forward. Often followed by a look of shame, Stewart’s interpreter acts out everything from romantic Bridgerton-like sex to other intimate scenarios my editor would never let me publish. At times, audience laughter in response to the interpreter was delayed and threw Stewart off her rhythm. However, if Stewart identified an interpreter she could work with regularly, it’s certain they could build a rhythm that would be brilliant for the show and for comedy.  

Overall, I think Madeline Stewart is one of the finest female comedians we have, not to mention sexy AF and with time, she will only get better. 

Reviewer Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

So Brave played at the Factory Theatre as part of the Sydney Comedy Festival. You can follow more of Madeleine by following her on Instagram @miss_madi_cakes


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