Reflective and thought-provoking, Esther Manito uses her hour on stage to express her experiences as a woman in her 40s as well as ridiculously funny anecdotes. After her appearances on Live at the Apollo (BBC), Stand up Sketch Show (ITV2) and Hypothetical (Dave), Manito is a consolidated main player in the UK comedy scene.
The lights dim in the packed-out basement of Hyde Park Book Club and Aretha Franklin’s ‘Think’ blasts out of the speakers. As soon as Manito announces herself the already excited audience erupts into much deserved applause. Esther Manito may be a big name in the UK comedy scene, but she also draws in audiences like herself. When glancing around the room it was clear that the vast majority of crowd members were women of a similar age who not only laughed but nodded along as Manito invited us into her world. Her experiences of being the daughter of an Arab father made for some unintentionally vulgar sayings that her father mistook for common phrases. Her almost inconceivable anecdotes were funny in themselves but, coupled with her gift for storytelling, she took us on an emotional rollercoaster. These included an unfortunate incident at a charity Tough Mudder race, the opportunity of a lifetime on a swinger’s cruise and a punch up at a hen party.
No topic was untouched. Her jokes weren’t just hilarious but also thought-provoking. Being told she’s ‘as good as a man’ to which she responds ‘any man?’ is a brilliant example of this. Along with this, her experiences of being called ‘angry’ contrasting with men being called ‘passionate’ was something everyone in the audience was privy to. A comparison of Dad’s in playgrounds and female comics was extremely profound and beautifully put. Even with these controversial and personal topics, she was able to stay relatable and help the audience understand her issues through a comedic lens. As an audience member it’s hard to believe that this was her first UK tour. Her stage presence was stellar as well as her audience interaction. Somehow, Manito found the perfect equilibrium between making the crowd feel at ease and simultaneously on edge. She had the whole basement in the palm of her hands.
Words: Kate Moxon, she/her
Images: Flick Morris