Em O'Loughlin was a BIG FATTY BOOMBAH!
nytheatre.com review by Brad Lee Thomason
August 16, 2011
In sixty captivating minutes Australian comedienne Emily O’Loughlin takes us on a journey through forty years; from her birth in 1965 when she weighed merely six pounds all the way to the year 2004 when that figure had shot up to 352; and finally 2005 when that number had dropped by a staggering 187. She takes the audience on many stops along the way; childhood and dealing with her very skinny older sister and opinionated grandmothers, age fifteen when she bought her first mini skirt, and finally adulthood where her weight literally became an issue of life or death. The depression and self-loathing that obesity carries with it and the abuse from society that the severely overweight must endure could easily warrant a darker production; but Emily’s performance is more of a standup comedy routine than anything else. You see, she was never supposed to be fat according to a blessing from Glenda the Good Witch, but Glenda, you see, unfortunately showed up and blessed her with a Snickers bar instead.
Throughout every stop in the history, Emily has a visual aid that compares her weight to something unexpected; at this age she weighed as much as an elephant penis; at this weight she weighed as much as a quarterback; at this age she weighed as much as Arnold Schwarzenegger holding a baby giraffe, and so on. With an impressive voice she belts out the parody songs she used to sing to herself in the shower when she was heavy, like “Jenny Craig Dropout” and a mock version of the song “Memory” from Cats (except in her version the musical is called "Fats"); and also the songs she sang after finally losing the weight, my favorite of which was “Let’s Hear it for the Soy!”
The jokes come rapid-fire and until the end of the piece there isn’t a sentence uttered without at least one crack, and usually it’s more like two or three. She is wildly energetic throughout and it’s almost impossible not to be dazzled by her spunk and positive take on forty years that unquestioningly must have had more than a few painful moments. She may be able to laugh about it now; but comments like “You look like two pounds of shit in a one pound bag” and the negativity that comes from looking in the mirror when you’re morbidly obese can’t possibly be helpful to a person’s psyche.
Eventually, the darkness does indeed come. Towards the end of the piece Emily must face two sobering realities—a very frightening episode trying to find romance on the internet and the fact that if she did not change her life she was not long for it. In the end, however, as it says in the program, she was able to make her ass look smaller by pulling her head out of it; and include what she calls “The Schmaltziest” moment in this year’s Fringe. Though I can’t say I’m able to see all other 188 shows to verify this proclamation, I think she might just be right.