Iliza Shlesinger review – dating, mating and crass Mars/Venus cliches

Iliza Shlesinger performing in Los Angeles.
Charisma and craft … Iliza Shlesinger performing in Los Angeles. Photograph: Brandon Williams/Getty Images for International M

Iliza Shlesinger raised hackles last summer when she criticised other female comics for their “low-hanging fruit” material. It is hard not to recall that with a wry smile when watching this London date, which is almost exclusively dedicated to comedy of the “men do this, women do that” variety. And what women do, it seems, is ensnare men. We’re told this with charisma and craft on Shlesinger’s part, and there are decent jokes. But the gender essentialism gets wearing.

The US comedian starts by mentioning her recent engagement – which some worry will compromise her comedy, focused as it is on the single life. Perhaps by way of a last hurrah, she intensifies that focus tonight. Minus the final 10 minutes, the show is all about the dating and mating game. In which, apparently, men are lions and women gazelles. Men are physical, women verbal. Men are built for rejection, and women can’t handle it. No one ever lost an audience by reinforcing stereotypes, but for many of us residing in the 21st century (and certainly those who’ve seen Sara Pascoe taking these cliches to task), this stuff rings increasingly 2D.

But at least Shlesinger gives it cartoonish vigour, as she depicts the she-dragon lurking behind women’s made-up, pushed-up facade, or the android efficiency required to “scan [prospective husbands] for physical abnormalities”. Occasionally, she takes pops at gender archetypes (from Hollywood movies, say) that are even crasser than her own. Then there’s a welcome reprieve from the Mars-and-Venus material, when broody Shlesinger recounts an intense encounter at an airport with someone else’s cute baby. She’s a capable standup, but the fruit of this show isn’t so much low-hanging as mouldy on the ground.

• At the Glee Club, Birmingham, on 18 April. Box office: 0871 472 0400. At Vicar Street, Dublin, on 19 April. Box office: 353 818 903001.