When Catherine Cohen’s The Twist …? She’s Gorgeous played the Edinburgh fringe in 2019, I fell hard for its charisma and swagger, its wickedly funny songs laying bare the troubled soul of an Insta-addled, personality-is-performance millennial. Belatedly, the show now makes it to Netflix, to answer the question: does the comedy of rapturous self-absorption still fly on the other side of a global pandemic?
Happily, it does, Cohen easily assimilating Covid into the story of her own, endlessly fascinating self. If watching on TV can’t rival up-close-and-personal contact with the New Yorker’s starburst personality, this is still a cracking watch. Accompanied by Henry Koperski on piano, Cohen greedily hogs the stage and the attention (“Look at me doing comedy in a rhinestone romper!”) with this suite of songs and standup on the workings of her fabulous, fraught life and mind.
And your attention is richly rewarded by an act whose every aside, gesture and turn of phrase (“which I absolutely – foot-pop! – j’adore”) intensifies the spectacle of neurotic self-regard. There are occasional sidesteps: a routine about visiting a Chipotle makes the staff’s sexism, rather than Cohen’s solipsism, the butt of the joke. But usually – as with the song about other people’s fitness regimes that’s soon narrating a disastrous one-night stand of her own – the joke switchback-returns to Cohen and the curated car-crash she’s making of her life.
But what a rich joke that is, characterised by real complexity – as with a bleak-comic closing number drilling down into the contradictions of her romantic/erotic imagination, or with the song about plus-size clothing, which prompts the for-the-ages line “if I fuck this skinny guy I won’t have a chubby daughter that I have to fight with in the dressing room”.
I’ll be intrigued to see – as with her contemporary Bo Burnham – whether this level of recursive self-involvement sustains far into Cohen’s 30s (she’s now 31). Either way, given her flair for tart social observation, her ruthless candour, and a voice that works double-time as a comic and a musical instrument (all those choruses that collapse into nonsense), I’ll absolutely be tuning in to find out.