Funny Cow review – grit and wit

Maxine Peake is magnificent in Adrian Shergold’s unflinching drama about a standup on the 70s northern club circuit

There are several moments in this astringently uncomfortable tragicomedy – which boasts a blistering central performance by Maxine Peake – that will leave audiences squirming and divided. Funny Cow follows the changing fortunes of a standup comic finding her feet in the northern working men’s clubs of the 70s. It has been described by writer and co-star Tony Pitts as “an unblinking obituary” and “unsentimental commentary” on the culture in which he grew up. Some will be shocked by Peake’s “Funny Cow” (we know her only by her stage name), winning round hostile audiences with un-pc gags that were once the backbone of the British club circuit. Others will simply nod in resigned recognition at this hard-knocks world in which “it’s not about being funny, it’s about surviving”.

There
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