first world white girls: review
#FirstWorldWhiteGirls is a light-hearted cabaret that satirises that special group of people who live for hashtags, Tiffany’s, and fifteen minutes of fame. Brisbanites Judy Hainsworth and Kaitlin Oliver Parker have brought their #totallyOTT characters Tiffany and Kendall to Melbourne as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. The characters (a trust fund princess and Anna Nicole Smith-esque trophy wife) are in town to help the similarly privileged with their first world problems.
The show follows the pair as they offer titbits of advice on topics such as dating (marry rich, know your worth), fame (reality TV is the key) and how to find happiness (credit cards). The audience is offered the chance to share their first world problems, and be consoled by the dulcet tones of Chris Martin.
The vocal work and original songs are the strongest elements of the show. Hainsworth and Parker deliver them with such pep and gusto, it’s easy to be swept into the silliness of the problems they are singing about. Their characters have a naïve sincerity that is very believable; though they are ridiculous, they have elements of recognisability. Their confidence is almost inspiring, ‘Please Don’t Ask Me Out’ was one of the funniest songs of the night. When Tiffany and Kendall truly get into the music, the audience can’t help but be carried away with them. The show’s finale was the best example of this, and the highlight of the show.
While enjoyable, the show still felt lacking. It didn’t quite know who its audience was. I feel like the people who would enjoy a show teasing shallow people (positioning themselves as having depth by comparison) might not be the audience for transphobic jokes or eating disorder ‘bits’. Obviously it’s the characters making the jokes, and we’re meant to think they are ridiculous for saying them, but the show could have toned it down a notch while still pushing boundaries. One of the early songs is about Kim Kardashian, and while there is rich opportunity for comedy in idolising a reality TV star, the song took a cheap shot at the origins of her fame and the ~craziness~ of her life, which included some problematic messages.
Perhaps the problem was #FirstWorldWhiteGirls was lacking a straight man to anchor their silliness in reality. It felt a bit like Ab Fab, without Saffy to balance Eddie and Patsy’s ridiculous ways. The characters were a little too privileged, which took away some of the humour from what they were saying. If they had been a bit more recognisable to the audience, the commentary would have had more bite.
#FirstWorldWhiteGirls is a show with potential. Audiences looking for funny songs and non-PC humour will be swept away by the egotistical tour-de-force that is Tiffany and Kendall, the ultimate First World White Girls.