Some of the most intriguing stand ups that I’ve seen at the Fringe have been performing their first full hour. Whereas future shows will often be written about the comic’s experiences over the past year that first hour has been 20 or 30 (sometimes even more) years in the making. It’s always worth going along to see someone new, particularly when their background is as diverse as Maria Shepata’s. Born in the US to Egyptian parents, before recently moving to London via Los Angeles, she can’t wait to share how life has brought her to be standing on a stage in front of a group of strangers in Edinburgh.
It’s clear from the start that she is willing to chase the big laugh and builds on each line with another and sometimes another, each time exposing the cultural gulf that exists between her life in Los Angeles and her family back in Egypt. Loads of comedians from both sides of the Atlantic have had bits about the educational deficit in the USA, but she manages to build this into her experiences, first through some silly observations that have been made about her, but more interestingly in how it’s fueled so many of her mistaken (though exciting) decisions.
She’s impulsive and willing to take a chance, this is what takes her to Los Angeles, staying with a psychopathic landlord, hiring a dour Ukrainian therapist before finally travelling 5,437 miles for love and settling in the UK. Her nomadic lifestyle may leave her in screeds of debt and without much of a plan, but it ensures great stories that keep you gripped.
The biggest strength of this show is that it actually leaves you caring, desperate to know what happens next. She’s someone that you’re routing for and her attitude to life reminded me a lot of the characters on Broad City (one of the best shows on television, if you haven’t seen it). There is still plenty more left in this story to build another hour, maybe even a few more. I’m sure everyone that’s been to see Maria will be following developments with baited breath.