We're familiar with certain compulsions when it comes to our online persona. The need to clean out Twitter following a co-worker's follow notification, is one, along with a plethora of other social media based priorities, that stand-up comic Jordana Borensztajn details. Yet despite our modern-day sensibilities (our lack thereof) being ripe for the mocking, Social Needia is more often as dry and uncomfortable as it's subject matter can be, should the internet's users suddenly lose confidence in the charm of their eccentricities.
For all it's promise, the night's primary problems lie in indecisive beats and circularity. Repetitious commentary on how anti-social/addicted to technology Borensztajn is and how she maintains a heated love affair with sites such as Facebook and their ability for her to determine relationships and her personal image by are initially endearing, just as her wry insistence she's a difficult person, seem like biting candidness. After two, three, four uses of the stock confession, however, the charm wears off. Would it be cruel to confess it's understandable how she came to some conclusions?
Borensztajn herself is sporadically entertaining: as a newer performer, this should be expected, although the nerves are less expected now. The greatest laughs she earns are often spur-of-the-moment responses to her environs, and potentially indicative of the more charismatic player hiding behind the neuroses she boasts of. She wears a smile that she trains upon the first few rows like a beacon, yet the mask of purportedly neurotic composure begins to grate when she misses or stretches out a comic beat. Sadly, this fumbling about with comic timing is almost an expected beat in itself by the second half of the night: Borensztajn has the tendency to stretch out words with aforementioned smile in a manner that feels neither awkward, nor self-effacing, but strained. Even the well documented issues (OCD; hypochondria; a plethora of other disorders retitled with an obvious nod to varying forms of media) are deployed but to say she lacks skills would be cruel; she's not entirely without magnetism, and holds her own in the delivery of gags related to her home life. Perhaps it's this everywoman allure that's so appealing; rather than sashay on stage and back on out, Borensztajn constantly acknowledges her place as a self-professed single, neurotic working woman of our background, and in doing so, builds a swift rapport with the audience. Her dry, self-deprecating delivery of how she excels at diagnosing medical conditions and escalating them, or her inability to communicate to people face-to-face is also easily appreciated -- but again, suffers the dreaded echo effect.
There's roughly-hewn potential in this comedian and her vaguely-familiar show, that's for sure, though Borensztajn hasn't refined it yet. The flaws come in forgetting that the greatest strength of the internet, and of comedy alike, is the appeal of a persona that feels mostly polished and unapologetic should it plunge into the bizarre or downright uncomfortable and memorability in content: qualities Social Needia currently lacks.
Melbourne Fringe 2013
Venue: Portland Hotel - The Locker Room, Cnr Russell & Little Collins St, Melbourne
Dates: Sep 19 (Thu), Sep 22 (Sun), Sep 24 (Tue), Sep 26 (Thu), Sep 27 (Fri) Oct 1 (Tue), Oct 3 (Thu), Oct 5 (Sat)
Times: All shows 9:15pm, Sun 7:00 pm (50 min)
Tickets: Full $20, Conc $18, Group (4+) $18, TT $16
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au | (03) 9660 9666