Arts & Culture

‘If I Had a Rich Man’

A British Jewish female clown takes on ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ Read More

By / July 20, 2016

image1

It’s almost August, which means it’s about time for the largest annual performing arts festival in the world, Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  We’re talking literally thousands of shows performing cumulatively tens of thousands of times over the course of a month, all in Scotland’s capital.

When I had the pleasure of attending last year, I reviewed four shows with Jewish content for Tablet. I’m stuck stateside for the Fringe this year, which means I can’t witness the extremely Jewish return of one particularly weird comedy artist.

Candy Gigi, a British clown, is back this year with a new show: If I Had a Rich Man. The premise is straightforward enough: Candy sings you through Fiddler on the Roof from the perspective of an Orthodox-raised woman in 2016 seeking a match. But with her unique brand of comedy, it’s not that simple.

Chicken Soup, her piece last year, was one of the best shows I saw at the Fringe (and I saw over a dozen acts in three days), and is also probably the hardest to describe. For Tablet, I wrote:

Candy Gigi is a performer whose solo clown show depicts a first date from hell (where she would be the Devil). The show is fully manic, somewhat terrifying, and a bit brilliant.  The absurdist set has to be seen to be believed, and while its only about half an hour, it ends with the comedian covered with everything from toothpaste to lipstick.

Oddly enough, of all the shows on this list, Candy Gigi most seamlessly integrates her Jewish identity into her work. Her character is Jewish, sure (the act’s first word is “Shalom”), but she strikes a natural balance between explicit jokes and letting it be a natural part of her character.  Her ethnic neuroses are only one small part of the reason why she’s an undateable monster. It’s refreshing to see a realistic reflection of modern-day Jewishness through an act that involved a blow-up doll in fake payot.

The show was not for the faint of heart. Candy’s antics also included making an audience member act as her “date,” extremely explicit references to sex acts, treating a literal raw, whole chicken as a baby, and near-constant yelling. On the day I attended, Candy even powered through her set while bleeding from her hand due to a mishap with a prop. But it was absolutely worth seeing, and a year later, my affection for that surreal little piece has only increased.

I can only imagine what Fiddler will look like in Candy’s weird, capable hands. If any Jewcy readers are in Edinburgh this August, please, please check out this show and report back to me.

If I Had a Rich Man plays every day (except Tuesdays) at 1 p.m. at The Hive on 15-17 Niddry Street in Edinburgh, Scotland, from August 4-28.

If you want to get just a taste of what Candy Gigi is about, you can watch the clip below. The Jewish references and vulgarity both start almost immediately: