Wanna feel weird? Try star-rating someone’s tears. Not for the first time, Jayde Adams invokes her late sister at the end of her fringe show, voice cracking and eyes reddening as she does so. There were no signposts towards this conclusion to a set that first promises to save modern men from redundancy, then swerves into an account of Adams’ saviour complex and inadequate self-care. But here we are at the 37-year-old’s teary catharsis, as a conversation she had at her sister’s funeral takes those disparate strands and tries to resolve them.
So – odd question to have to ask – do those tears, and that emotional ambush, justify themselves in the context of the show? Men, I Can Save You starts as a mock-support group for straight males, struggling to adjust to their loss of power. Adams is in her comfort zone here, and her gags at the expense of men’s dying dominance are fun, if seldom insightful. But her heart’s not in it: she quite likes men, whereas a matriarchy – or her closest experience of one, an all-female WhatsApp group – fills her with dread.
The show then spirals off into an account, if not of Adams’ recent breakup, then of her journey since, learning to look after herself and prioritise her needs, sexual and otherwise. As if to prove men’s diminished power, she performs two routines that might be out of bounds for a male comic: one about hiring an escort, another boasting about having sex with an unnamed celebrity. (Adams revels in her newfound star status: see the not-infrequent nods to her forthcoming Strictly appearance.)
As the maleness theme resurfaces with a remarkable masturbatory dumbshow performed by Adams as Pierrot, the hour wants for something to resolve its contradictions. I’m not sure its tear-stained closing anecdote, for all that it reassures our host she will always be loved, quite does that. But its tender delivery papers over the cracks, and convinces you that Adams’ post-breakup journey, at least, has been redeemed. If that leaves modern man entirely un-saved – well, perhaps he, like Adams, should learn to look after himself.