Gillian Cosgriff is Whelmed

In a small an intimate performance space at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, comedienne, singer, songwriter and pianist, Gillian Cosgriff, set the mood by conducting her housekeeping in song. In next to no time she had her fellow Gen Y audience members laughing along encouragingly, but it wasn’t long before she had the older generations eating out the palm of her hand as well.

Gillian Cosgriff is Whelmed. Image supplied
Gillian Cosgriff is Whelmed. Image supplied

She’s sassy, she’s witty, sharp as a tack and admittedly pretty cool. Despite dishing selfie sticks in the first five minutes (I own one), I couldn’t help but love her, in fact, I felt like I wanted her to like me and be my friend.

She’s a typical Gen Y, driven, confident and not afraid to speak out about things she doesn’t like, even if her opinion differs from the masses.

She opens the show by explaining that she’s recently discovered that not only can you be overwhelmed or underwhelmed but you can also be whelmed. Apparently it’s a term that relates to sailing – being whelmed is when the waves are lapping right up to very top of the boat, where you’re just inches away from being submerged.

Cosgriff makes an analogy to her own life, describing herself as constantly whelmed. Just managing to keep a lid on her life, she feels like she’s only just getting through all her commitments and keeping her life afloat. It’s something many audience members would relate to, constantly wondering if they have enough hours in the day.

The reason this comedienne is whelmed? She blames her procrastination, something she’s apparently almost a professional at. Add that to her need to be a high achiever – it’s a dangerous combination.  Right when she should be putting all her efforts into her work life she’s distracted by any other number of tasks, such as being the best crepe maker or learning the capital city of every country in the world. 

She sets a hilarious and fast-pace. She delivers each of her jokes at the front of the stage and then moves back to her keyboard to expand on the joke with one of her original songs. It’s a great way to show off her multiple talents. Not only is she very clever and funny, she’s also an accomplished pianist and singer. Not to mention she’s also an attractive young woman. You’d probably hate her if she wasn’t so damn likeable.

As the show unfolds she takes a look at society and points out a few home truths.  Why do people insist on telling everyone how happy they are on Facebook? Why do people give the worst presents? How has the health industry managed to build a million dollar industry preying on an adult’s sense of responsibility?

Still smarting from the selfie stick joke I was so pleased when I wasn’t one of her next targets, the Facebook user guilty of posting inspirational quotes, or one of the consumers going slowly broke spending $9 on a jar of cold-press juice. (Well I only do that once a week, surely that’s OK)? Cosgriff tells it like it is and pulls no punches. There was a lot the audience could relate to and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that hung their head in shame when something I did, or enjoyed, came under scrutiny.

I learnt a lot too. Didn’t know about the Labord’s chameleon in Madagascar and its ability to extinct itself each year. Cosgriff’s song about the chameleon was hilarious. Being Gen X I also didn’t understand the reference to a woman being DTF when she’s all bronzed up and ready for a night on the town. (If you’re not sure of the acronym either, best to Google it on Urban Dictionary as it’s probably not suitable for this review post.) Speaking of which, there is some swearing in the show, something that Cosgriff warns about up-front. To her credit there’s not a lot and being a Billy Connelly fan I always find it gives me a chuckle in any case.

Cosgriff ends her hour-long set with a “catchy” little number that rivals the annoyance of Coles’ “prices are down” campaign. It’s silly, it’s humourous and you’ll understand when you see the show why it will stay with you.

At the end of her set Cosgriff gives the audience a chance to meet her as they shuffle out of the auditorium. It’s intense. You can’t really escape it either as she stands right at the doorway. Here’s this really cool woman that you want to like you and you’re wondering what witty little morsel you can deliver when it’s finally your chance to say hello. Then it came to me “hi, I own a selfie stick but my Mum bought it for me, it’s one of those bad present ideas,” as I nod towards my mother standing beside me. Poor Cosgriff doesn’t know who to apologise to first. I try to get the situation back under control but complimenting her on her very groovy skirt to which she says,

“Gee, you’re a really nice lady.”

And there I am on the back foot again, she’s likes me, sorta, but I’m Gen X and seem so old to her she’s referred to me as a lady. Damn! Guess she’s not going to be my new best friend.

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