Abigoliah Schauman high kicks the air and jokes she should have brought her tap shoes. For a comic transitioning from comedy clubs to theatre spaces, the Lowry Studio is a big stage. Abigoliah is quick to claim it: ‘I’m so American I don’t need a mic,’ she tells us. She does have a mic – but she’s right, her voice and personality can stand on their own. She’s loud and bold, but far from brash, making her an interesting and complex performer.
The relatively intimate space compared with the other two theatre spaces of the Lowry, allows for some audience interaction. Abigoliah approaches this banter like a lively friend who is genuinely interested to hear from the crowd. Her intention is not to rip people apart but to give Brits a little injection of American confidence with laughter along the way. This leads to some hilarious observational sketches and physical comedy mimicking us oh so apologetic Brits.
Abigoliah advocates a more upfront and accepting self-love approach – getting the audience to say out loud her confidence catch-phrase: ‘Look and this face, look at this face – flawless.’ At the same time she is quick to laugh at herself as she paints us all kinds of compromising pictures, such as riding a bike through Sydney wearing a tiny bikini like a political statement, and meeting her boyfriend through a fetish site then having to share all their early texts with the Home Office in a bid to gain a partnership visa. So far, she reveals, the embarrassment has been in vain, but we hope for the comedy circuits’ sake, if nothing else, this Ohio girl gets to stay.
Like all good comic storytellers, Abigoliah weaves and interweaves her stories until punchlines pile upon punchlines. These include well-crafted routines ranging from a too much information account of butt waxing to a thought-provoking and at the same time hilarious insight into America’s gun laws.
It is not a heavily political show, but Abiogoliah winds us in slowly and then hits us with something where we can feel unclear how to react. Did she just mention Josef Mengele? Yes, she did. But the link is absurd rather than offensive. Still, it injects a sharp, shock value that jolts the audience out of their comfort zone. Later she suggests we could reclaim words like ‘faggot’ and ‘jipped’ by changing their meaning to something else – because they sound good. It’s a suggestion not a rant, but it feels like she is pushing to see how far she can keep us – doing that American thing she talked of earlier – through persistence forcing us into submission because we Brits can’t say no.
On the whole though, we don’t feel beaten by her in these routines, just a bit thrown off course. As a comedian she is likeable, clever and very funny. By the end, do we know who she thinks she is? Well – she thinks she’s pretty much flawless – and she’ll even sell you a mirror after the show so you can be too. Who do we think she is? She’s a comedian ready to take her comedy to the next level. Go see her and bask in her confidence.★ ★ ★ ★
Abigoliah Schamaun’s Do You Know Who I Think I Am?! was at The Lowry on 27 October 2019. She is at The Comedy Store Manchester on 16 November and 19-21 December 2019. Visit www.abigoliah.com for details.