Review: Half-Baked Alaskan (Brighton Fringe)

Streaming until the end of June as part of the Brighton Fringe, Sally Ann Hall’s Half-Baked Alaskan is a comedy show recorded in lockdown, in a small New York apartment.

Half-Baked Alaskan explores growing up religious in Alaska and then glowing up into a bold woman of substance who navigates the dangers of performing comedy in a man’s world. With a mixture of stand-up, storytelling, and just a squirt of original music, this solo show is feminist, filthy, and just what you need.” (Brighton Fringe website)

Hall introduces herself as a radical feminist, originally from Alaska (“one of the last places you can die from the elements”). Her routine is about work, family, snowsuits, women’s anatomy and sex, and Drew Barrymore (there is a definite physical resemblance).

This is a work in progress at forty-eight minutes, which will eventually become Baked Alaskan ready for its Edinburgh debut, but has a wide-ranging focus with a string delivery. It isn’t performed/filmed in one block, but the changes between sequences are fairly seamless.

A song about a moose and why it is not a deer reminded me of my only other brush with Alaskan culture, the TV comedy series Northern Exposure, which always featured one of the animals in the credits. But in Hall’s account, the moose is just one example of the Alaskan ability to grow and survive.

Promotional image for Half-Baked Alaskan

As a quarantine comedy special, utilising an audience of Hall’s room-mates, Half-Baked Alaskan is genuinely funny and fairly caustic. It also looks at how women in comedy find their way in what is still very much a man’s world (if you watched the TV series about the New York comedy scene, I’m Dying Up Here, you’ll see the genesis of this, but how much has changed?), and the issues which are still affecting those performers today.

Hall’s style is tough and abrasive, but also warm and charming. Her material is very funny and sometimes wince-inducing in its honesty. Half-Baked Alaskan touches on being an Alaskan, but it more about a thirty-something woman still navigating all the ups and downs of the world she lives in. There’s serious material here, but delivered with a wry, confessional, style which makes its point without getting too heavy.

Check out more about Sally Ann Hall on her website or on Twitter. With Irene Fagan Merrow she created the podcast Good Pornin’ America which discusses a range of issues around the enjoyment of pornography from a female perspective.

Fringe rating: ***

You can access Half-Baked Alaskan at the Brighton Fringe until 27 June – tickets here (from £4)

LouReviews received complimentary access to review Half-Baked Alaskan.