Review: Gillian Cosgriff: Actually, Good

Comedy doesn’t have to be cruel: Gillian Cosgriff’s winning show sings with her generosity and kindness

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Gillian Cosgriff
Photo by Simone Ruggiero
Published 11 Aug 2023

Winner of the Most Outstanding Show and Best Independent Show in Melbourne, Actually, Good is an unusually collaborative hour between Gillian Cosgriff and her audience. It's a simple premise and one which feels almost uninspired by the boredom of a rainy holiday: Cosgriff and her partner list a 10-to-one countdown of experiences, or stuff, that they like. 

Actually, Good becomes more than the sum of its parts: an exchange of ideas, an unpretentious and open hearted anthropology of our pleasures large or small. It's scored by the catchiness of Cosgriff's songs and the power of her voice; and underscored by the strength of Cosgriff's routines, such as the crossed lines she experiences getting a therapist over the phone (for work-related stress she had while playing Delphini in Melbourne Princess Theatre's production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). It's about grief and grieving the brief time we have with people, celebrating the understanding that comes with parceling out our little delights. 

Our night added to the serendipity of Cosgriff's Book of Good collection – her keepsake of crowdsourced lists now includes: Drunkenly telling friends the music they'd like... Bloc Party!; striding away from friends on a drunken night out; when your dog poos next to the dog poo bin; being an Airport Dad (even when you're alone); when you wake up and you don't know what day it is and then you realise you don't have to go to work because it's Sunday. And the pleasingly smug: 'petrichor.' Our room's number one was as sweet as a golden syrup sandwich: 'Dancing with my girlfriend at a wedding when there's no-one on the dancefloor.' The mawkishness uproarishly vanishing as the guy admitted the woman he was with wasn't the girlfriend of the aforementioned dancefloor. 

Cosgriff's show is exceptional and an exception to some of the fairly robust definitions of comedy: comedy is cruelty or comedy is tragedy seen in the rearview mirror. In the Cabaret Bar, comedy plays on its lighter, sunnier, playful side – the laughter of friendship and a shared bond.