Emily Wilson: Fixed - Soho Theatre
The New Jersey comedian brings her X Factor show to London
As a product of the 90s, Emily Wilson immortalised her teenage years online. From all too familiar Facebook statuses to cringeworthy YouTube vlogs she documented her New Jersey upbringing and notably her dream to become a famous singer. Fuelled by the wholesome naivety of a time when anything felt possible she auditioned for the first season of the X Factor USA in 2011 - if Susan Boyle could wow the world then she could too. But despite reaching the live finals, initially as part of her duo Ausem and then part of a judge picked kids group, it was far from the dream the fifteen year old Emily had envisioned. Wilson has transformed her at times painful story into a wonderfully slick hour of comedy and music, inviting us to laugh along with her as she shifts the narrative to one of self-acceptance and growth.
Nostalgia is at the heart of Wilson’s show. Diary entries take us inside her teenage brain as she prays for her wishes to come true whilst VHS home videos and YouTube posts allow us to understand who Emily was before the X Factor arrived and revel in the awkward adolescence in a delightfully similar style to Rob Madge’s West End hit. Wilson refuses to hold back in the detail as she spills her juvenile secrets, such as being in love with her best friend, who in hindsight was very clearly not into her, let alone women. All of this ensures her routine is accessible and highly relatable for any fellow 90s or 00s babies and the laughs flow quickly because of it.
Turning to her time on the X Factor, Wilson lifts the lid on the process as she recounts her first audition, nicely interspersed with the footage that aired across America. There is no escaping the cruel experience she endures but Wilson extracts all the humour available from the miserable experience with her rousing and side-splitting song, “Step Your Game Up,” as her poor teenage self believes that is what she has to do to impress the same judges that have just spent the last few televised minutes belittling her.
Wilson is a naturally gifted storyteller and comedian with strong vocals, no matter what Nicole Scherzinger says. With her confident, infectious charm she draws the audience in, allowing us to share in her trauma but laugh at the experience nonetheless. She has crafted an outstanding hour of comedy bathed in nostalgia and self-deprecation in which we can all see ourselves. Whilst Wilson’s story is a little different and more public than most, it challenges audiences to look back at their younger selves and celebrate any embarrassment they find there - whether it be a terrible haircut, wild fashion choices or singing competition-shaped agony. By examining our juvenile woes and mistakes we can see how far we’ve come - in the hope that we keep growing and will find our present selves equally embarrassing in another ten years.
A outstanding evening of wholesome cringe comedy, theatre and song from a brilliant comedian - Emily Wilson is the star she dreamt of being.
Running till 18 March - Tickets
Photography - Dylan Woodley