Suchandrika Chakrabarti’s debut Fringe Comedy hour, I Miss Amy Winehouse, is an incedible piece of storytelling disguised as stand-up. It would be criminal to reduce this beautifully rounded piece of theatre to a stand-up piece about Amy Winehouse. It’s a very enjoyable watch – the well-crafted narrative structure gives the piece a foot above the rest, unfortunately, I’m just not sure if it should be marketed as a comedy show.
Under the false pretence of a straight comedy show, it is all too easy to diagnose Chakrabarti as an awkward fan girl. Her unassuming tone and oddly specific references feel, at times, a little alienating – particularly to the Boomers in the room. Combined with the fear-inducing suggestion of audience interaction and a PowerPoint quiz, there were some eyes rolling. But with pastel note cards in hand, she slowly built a great rapport with her audience. She established this expectation and trust, however, to whip the rug from underfoot. Her initial love for Winehouse masks a deep dive into grief and the shared story of two heartbroken young women.
Amongst many things, she explores Amy’s image and what it means to grow up under the thumb of the media. She compared her adoration of Winehouse to her mother’s love of Princess Diana and discussed the irony of their ‘normal girl’ images. The thing is… there aren’t many statues made for normal girls. There’s a naivety about her solidarity with Winehouse which is so relatable. Who hasn’t believed they could be best friends with their idol? Although, for two who appear so similar (in their location, age and humour), their differences couldn’t be anymore blindingly obvious. Everyone thinks they can relate to Amy, although really they can’t.
Chakrabarti’s comedy is best described as quintessentially British – if you don’t listen hard enough, you’ll miss the fun. It’s beautifully ironic, intelligent and multi-layered. She doesn’t have to scream or shout to get your attention and refuses to lay her punchlines on a plate. Either you get it or you don’t. Unfortunately, some of her quips fell through the cracks, and over the heads, of some audience members. This was by no fault of Chakrabarti’s writing however. The piece was written to tickle the funny bone, yet be simultaneously jarring. This is aided by the interesting use of multimedia.
The writing and concept are solid. What is lacking is a deserved confidence in it. With a little work on delivery and timing, it will hopefully tighten up. At times she appeared a little nervous, although that’s completely forgivable based on the freshness of the work, the freeness of her performing career… Sprinkle that with the vulnerability of the content and I guess it all makes sense. I look forward to seeing her progress with a little more experience on stage. This is without a doubt a story that needs to be told.
Describing herself as a ‘nice comedian’ is apt. Her personality comes across as warm and wholesome, contrasting with some of her sneakily dark and political humour. Suchandrika Chakrabarti is a pleasure to watch and deserves the greatest success with I Miss Amy Winehouse. Perhaps this one was better sold as a storytelling show for maximum effect and to reduce the pressure on the punchlines.
Recommended Drink: A pint of The Hawley Arms’ finest lager.
Performances of I Miss Amy Winehouse have now concluded at EdFringe 2022. Keep up with the performer’s social media for future performances.