2017 UK, Director, Adrian Shergold, Certificate 15
Maxine Peake delivers a blistering central performance in this unflinching drama about a female stand-up comic on the 70s northern club circuit. We only know her character as “Funny Cow” winning round hostile audiences with un-PC gags that were once the backbone of the British club circuit in a world when “it was not about being funny, it was about surviving”.
Having embraced her outsider status as a child, Peake’s misfit only feels at home on stage. “I can’t be a civilian,” she tells Alun Armstrong’s Lenny, the miserable “master of mirth” who assures her that “women aren’t funny”, and suggests she try singing or stripping instead. “I died years ago,” Lenny admits despondently. “I’m a comedic zombie.” As for Funny Cow, she has learned to “spit it out or swallow it up”; to accept that life can be “too much and not enough at the same time”.
This is an intimate portrait of an often abrasive character who wears her inability to love as a badge of honour making us care for Funny Cow without feeling sorry for her.