You could call Lara Ricote’s Edinburgh debut GRL/LATNX/DEF formulaic. Its title heralds a statement of who she is, a great big “this is me” to her public. And that’s what Ricote, the winner of last year’s Funny Women stage award, delivers. What distinguishes the show from so many rookie offerings in the same vein – aside from the high quality of her comedy – is that Ricote (more girl than woman, she claims; Mexican-American; hard of hearing) complicates those identities and her own claims to them.
The point is that she isn’t visibly any of the above. She passes as white and didn’t discover she was a person of colour until she moved to the Netherlands. And if you don’t know – are you? Neither is her deafness (at least with the help of hearing aids) conspicuous: Ricote puts herself in the “disability-lite” bracket. And why all the fuss about her and her sister’s hearing, why the search for an explanation, when her other sister is stupid and no one even talks about it?
You would describe the comic behind these routines as endearingly goofy – an effect intensified by her cartoonish, “Bart Simpson with a lisp” voice – save that there’s clearly a sharp, non-goofy organisational intelligence behind the show. Alongside her sisters, we’re introduced to her anti-vaxxer dad and niche-religious mum, whose overcautious attitude to sex to explains why “woman” is an identity Ricote has taken a while to embrace. Cue tongue-tied, knock-kneed accounts of her sexual awakening during a trip to Thailand, replete with dopey mime sequence as our host strains to acquire the morning-after pill at a local pharmacy.
It all makes for highly effective comedy, strong on jokes (who could resist her self-image as “three little girls in a trenchcoat” posing as an adult?) and not light on outside-the-box thinking. Perhaps the late musical interlude, about her obsessive relationship behaviour, feels less sure-footed. Then there are the interruptions by the version of Ricote who wishes she had made a show about climate change. That device makes its point – it’s a subject we shouldn’t be allowed to ignore – while contributing few laughs to this otherwise exemplary fringe debut.
Lara Ricote: GRL/LATNX/DEF is at Monkey Barrel @ The Hive, Edinburgh, until 28 August.