Celya AB: “Swimming,” at Edinburgh Fringe 2022

**** (out of 5)

Is it her accent? Is it her frock? Is it her glasses?

Whatever it is, there’s something magnetic about Celya AB that’s draws massive attention to her Fringe debut. She certainly cops to ticking off multiple boxes for industry appeal: French Algerian, bisexual (which she jokes must be obvious/mandatory as a woman in stand-up), a Muslim mother. But that’s not what “Swimming” is about. There’s a bit about her taking her first swimming lessons as an adult, so, yes, certainly, checks out. There’s also a metaphor in there about somewhere about sinking or swimming in assimilating with the English (culturally and linguistically). She says she learned English by watching films with the subtitles on, which helped because sometimes she misheard phrases. Leaving Paris for Birmingham at 19, because what says living the dream like an office job in B’ham?! If you think “the guy’s the limit,” then maybe?

The pandemic has forced many comics to reassess their place in the world. For AB, Brexit had her wondering if she even had a place in Britain any longer.

So there’s another reason why she might want to lean in and become just like the “pick me” girls she watched in American “prom” movies. After losing seven stone, she may be becoming more of a pygmy girl (sorry, I’ll see myself out now). Celya AB already has the new eyeglasses and the wit to be a secretly hot nerd just like in the movies. The crowd sees through it, though, and has fallen for her already. She really is all that.

Celya AB: Swimming runs through Aug. 29, 2022, at Pleasance Courtyard (Attic).

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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