Leslie Ewing-Burgesse's show was, by her own admission, not even a work in progress—to be so, she told us, it's usually material that's been done more than once and is still being trialled. Nebula would instead be a randomised run-through of half-written jokes. Having already seen a disappointing WIP show in the last week, I was skeptical as to whether she could make it work, but her slightly chaotic nature and gimmicks made it feel like I was down the pub with a friend telling me some stories. Which, really, is almost true.
The show was held together by a pint-glass with jokes inside of it, which she'd pull out one by one. This gave her some breathing room between jokes, but also gave the show a centre to revolve around. On the jokes that didn't quite land, it was often still funny to see her reaction when she pulled the paper out of the glass. It was like the notes you write yourself when you've woken up at 3am with an idea—possibly having potential but maybe not quite fully formed.
As she promised, some of the comedy inclined more toward the weird and surreal (she had a pocket full of sand harvested from the shoreline that she kept dropping on the floor) and we played a few games of guessing what was in her hand. She described herself as exhausting to hang out with because of how many ideas she comes up with, and this show definitely felt like a pinball machine, pinging us from one style of joke to another.
Despite this, there were common threads throughout that Ewing-Burgesse came back to: not wanting to be trapped just doing comedy about her insecurities, how comedy isn't therapy, and how she's learning not to be such a people pleaser. With a bit more polishing and structure, this could be a very solid show and I'm excited to see where she goes from here.
Leslie Ewing-Burgesse: Nebula will be at The Quadrant on Wednesday, June 23 and Sunday, June 27. To buy tickets, visit https://www.brightonfringe.org/whats-on/leslie-ewing-burgesse-nebula-work-in-progress-147759/