Reviewed by Eilis Lee.
With only a mic, a crumpled sheet of notes, and a stark, white spotlight, ex-Daily Show producer and Late Show writer Jena Friedman’s Miscarriage of Justice manages to viscerally capture how it feels to be a woman in 2019, living in a world that wants to hurt you at every turn. Leaving the blistering, hour-long show, I found myself feeling three things: anger, energy, and a strange sense of relief. I’m angry because the injustices that she draws her material from are so real, not only for me but for so many in the room. I’m energised by her quick, no-holds-barred delivery that lands each of her attacks right on target. And even if I feel irate at such injustices, I’m relieved; it feels good for a woman to be talking about the issues covered by her set so confidently, so critically, so fearlessly.
Friedman’s comedy isn’t nice, but why should it be? Opening with gentler Brexit-talk before moving on to scathing but fantastic breakdowns of US abortion law, femicide rates, and the spectre of miscarriage in casual discourse, Friedman’s foci are difficult but crucial. With such intense subject matter inevitably come some uncomfortable moments. Friedman herself noted a few longer, slightly shocked pauses before laughter; she’s a little surprised that her UK audience’s typical humour isn’t as pitch-dark as usual, but takes this in her stride. Her audience interaction is as relentless as her laugh-rate, too—Friedman isn’t afraid to force her spotlight on those present or react to their responses. Confrontations with the men in the room offer some especially acerbic highlights, but as with most of her material, they nearly always feel necessary.
Miscarriage of Justice was a surprise to me; I went in knowing little about Friedman, not knowing what to expect. But it was shocking and motivating. I didn’t realise how much I needed to hear Friedman’s perspective. This show isn’t a haven for the faint-hearted, but some of the best comedy makes you confront challenging issues. Everybody should hear what Friedman has to say – it’s urgent, essential, and pretty damn funny.
TW: this show contains mentions of rape and sexual assault, death, fascism and Nazism, white supremacy, femicide, gun violence, miscarriage, and misogyny.
Jena Friedman: Miscarriage of Justice runs at Assembly George Square Studio Five at 21:20 until 25th August.