Article printed in CultureHUB Magazine
There are some people in this world that you know not to cross and after Friday night’s show as part of the Belfast Book Festival, comedian Janey Godley has firmly established herself as one of them. With an audience intimate enough, that the event could take place in a large living room. “I could have flown youse all over to ma hoose and shouted the show through the letterbox!” Janey Godley commanded the crowd in a way only an ex-pub landlady could; with a detrimental and ruthless quick wit.
Janey Godley is an award-winning veteran comic from the East End of Glasgow, who married into a criminal gang at 19 and went on to work in the stand-up circuit after her fearless ability to shoot down drunken mobs of men in her bar gained attention, and later, a slot at an open mic night. Godley combines personal anecdotes about family life, menopause and childhood abuse, with quips about Trump, the police state in America and the tampon tax. Her versatility allows her no limit to the subject matter, through which her comedy eases. And when interrupted by a drunken, rowdy man, we get an opportunity, first hand, to see her in her natural comic habitat.
Michael is one whole bottle of Rosé deep before the interval and had been growing agitated throughout the set. By the time he heckles her, Godley had surely sensed the inevitable. As he declares to the room that his girlfriend, a sheepish and timid Canadian named Clara has been “telling him to shut up” Godley encourages his engagement with the act and asks Clara how she is feeling, at which point, Michael interrupts, “believe it or not Michael, we don’t need men to facilitate our conversations!!” Godley shouts before the audience erupts with laughter as the drunken heckler hangs his head like a teenager and tries hard to silence himself. When he interrupts again and declares his support for Trump, Godley unleashes a fury and wit – that can only come from someone barred from America for being an enemy of the state “well hen, you wouldn’t mind him, would you? It’s not your pussy he’s trying to grab!”
Janey Godley has a fearlessness about her that leaves you feeling empowered and passionate, with the compassion and homeliness of an “over friendly cleaner who just wants to talk to everyone”. She reserves nothing in her account of her protest of Trump, armed with a piece of lino and a bingo marker, which saw her apprehended by two FBI men before the Scottish police stepped in. And as the lights come up and Godley draws the show to a close, it’s surely not only Michael that’s left feeling down beaten, as one hour of Janey Godley is just a taste of the mayhem that allows for her hilarious, sharp, merciless and versatile wit.
Belfast Book Festival • Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast