Thanyia Moore review – can a comedy show get by on laughs alone?

·2 min read

Back in 2020, Thanyia Moore was planning her fringe debut with a show about her bullying past. By the time Covid let her back on a stage, she’d gone off the idea, and has come to Edinburgh instead with Just Being Funny, which aspires to – well, I think you can guess. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But if you’re not doing theme, or narrative, or structure, but instead relying on funny alone, you’d better be very funny indeed.

Related: Thanyia Moore: ‘My material is my life, and then I sprinkle on some Hollywood to get the jokes’

Moore can be (she’s a former Funny Women award-winner, after all), and is here. But not enough to offset the arbitrariness of the show’s content. OK, so there’s a token effort to bind the whole thing together, by asking (and nothing could be more generic for a first full show) “who is Thanyia Moore?” By way of a response, the south Londoner takes us on a whistle-stop tour of her life, from childhood on a so-called ghetto estate in New Cross, via her experience winning the 2005 World Hip-hop Dance Championship, to a recent sky-dive for a panel show on Dave. Random? Indeed it is. The latter section in particular feels like filler, in part because she shares it twice: once as standup, once as screened segment from the TV show in question.

That’s a bit cheeky, in a set that comes in at well under 50 minutes. But if you don’t get quantity, there’s certainly quality, especially when it comes to Moore’s performing abilities. She’s a fantastically commanding comic, with fine crowd skills and the gift of an infectious laugh. There’s real warmth to the opening section, which introduces us to her no-nonsense mum and, with the story behind the unusual spelling of her name, to her ineffectual dad.

The street dance set-piece at the heart of the show is strong, too – so much so, and so remarkable the experience it relates (replete with more video footage), I wished she’d built the show around it. Instead, we get this loose-fitting miscellany: always enjoyable, because Moore is a larger-than-life host, but – ironically for a dancer – a bit uncoordinated.