Janey Godley in GOOD GODLEY (Ak)

Silo Theatre, Auckland

03/06/2006 - 03/06/2006

ODDFELLOWS Comedy Festival

Production Details

Ends Saturday – at Silo

Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,

1 hr - ish

Mirth in murky depths

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 31st May 2006

She’s tough, coarse, and rude – but fair, and damn funny. Scotland’s Janey Godley is a survivor, with a twinkle in her eye and wit to match.

The evening begins with some standard funny stand up (Victoria Beckham, our first lady’s hair-do, the drama of Wellington and its gang-plank runway)… she has us laughing merrily in seconds.

But a night with Janey is not that straight ahead. We are treated to insights and bitter-sweet stories far deeper than that. Among the gems are her most memorable birthday present, her contribution to Sunday School, running a pub and living above it in Glasgow’s East End, gangsters, her in-laws (one and the same as it turns out), facing the wrath of her daughter’s private school head mistress while stoned, dogs, guns, Tommy’s trial, and the significance of important legal documents.

Total truth and comedy don’t necessarily fit hand and glove but when the tales are so deliciously left-field and visceral, and told by this sharp-witted woman, it’s a shock-formula that hits hard, and yet at the same time, it’s so easy to laugh. Janey gives us permission to do so, as earlier in the evening, reactions start as a tentative titter.

Interestingly, the audience seems predominantly men. Why is that I pondered? Is it the gangster tales? The endearing coarseness of wee Janey? The shock value of the sensational stories? Certainly hers is not the normal festival crowd, but then again hers is not a normal festival show. It makes for a very refreshing, eye-opening evening.

Janey’s daughter Ashley is the butt of a fair amount of material as we hear Janey did not initially embrace motherhood. But the stunning young woman proudly filming her mother in the foyer after the show, has obviously been loved and nurtured, and not adversely affected by growing up round drunkards and addicts in the family bar ("she thought they were pixies and fairies", Janey assured us.)

If I said Janey’s material was not for the faint hearted, some folks might shy away. But don’t pre-judge. Janey’s perspectives are as valid as they are funny.

Plus if you love a good crime story, you’ll be right at home in the murky depths of her past. (Although the final chapter was a jumbled rush on opening night, as time caught up with us.)

A huge thanks must go to the sarcastic raccoon in Janey’s head, which allows her uncensored material to flow. It’s brought her an unforgettable series of stories, with memorable trouble along the way, making a night with Janey one you’ll think about for days after, until eventually, you have to buy the book to hear more.


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