Alison Spittle

Soup, The Hive, Edinburgh

Four stars

It’s a tricky job to bring such joy, light, laughter and empowerment to a damp under room of The Hive on a sticky afternoon, but you can put your trust in Alison Spittle. It would be a cliche to say the Irish comic lit up the room - she did glow in the sweaty spotlight - but I guess it’s really true.

Her set was nuanced, cheeky and joyful, but her jokes aren’t without dark sharp edges.‘Soup’, as the name suggests, is based around her love of soup and her belonging to a Soup Share Whatsapp (Whatsoup is surely a better name, she says, and I agree with her). This obsessive need for distraction - gardening, self-care, soup - is a common theme in Alison’s life and she takes her audience on a journey to find out why. It’s a show with many layers - think a packed broth that’s stewed for hours, more than a tinned tomato off the shelf.

From childhood run ins with worms and lice - which in true Catholic fashion she thought was the Holy Spirit - to hen dos at Butlins and the trauma of an armed break-in, Alison has always found a way of giggling through chaos. She’s perfect for the Fringe’s hectic atmosphere and Soup is a triumphant show. As I looked round the room, her audience were smiling the whole way through. You know your next laugh is incoming, so you might as well keep the smile on your face. It’s only efficient.

Her narration is rhythmic, lilting between personal stories and universal quips. Her own laughter is infectious, as is her vulnerability. Her unique brand of comedy isn’t defined by her Irishness, femininity or trauma - as some might be temoted to use these traits to hide under - but by her sheer likability. No one has ever made me giggle so much over growing their own strawberries or (lack of) potatoes, or made me snort out loud over jokes appreciating Brian McFadden. I’d love to go for a pint with you, Alison. That’s the sign of a great comedian, surely?

Grace Sansom is working with The Herald for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe's prestigious Emerging Critics Scheme