Lynn Ruth Miller : Get a Grip - Edfringe Review / Interview

“When I was 14 years old I looked in the mirror one day and what I saw terrified me. I saw terrible images of ugliness, horror. 40 years later, I looked again and I absolutely loved the reflection. And then I realised that what I was looking at all those years before was my own face, riddled with fears and preconceptions. We’re only frightened of our own fear. There’s nothing else there” Lynn Ruth Miller

“Do you mind I get changed right here?” She asks me as she begins to slip off her top in the press room of the India Buildings on Victoria Street. She then turns around and confesses with the cheekiest grin: “I’m totally heterosexual by the way!” And that was our moment of union: we both confessed to preferring watching boys take their clothes off than girls and we both confessed to being virtuous girls and very attached to our dads. And what I saw when the outer layer of clothing was removed was incredibly beautiful. I saw how kind God can be when our bodies are given to us and how cruel we are in nipping, tucking, squeezing, inserting, adding, subtracting and mutilating them when we set out mind to it. Lynn Ruth is perfect. Sexy, daring, unintimidated: Lynn Ruth is alive and every part of her flesh which I discreetly inspected with my timid eyes from a safe 10 foot distance, every single part is witness to her liveliness.

Fumbling with her frilly top, she asks me: “Are you Jewish?” With sadness, I avow that I’m only Mediterranean despite the big brown eyes and the long dark hair. I tell her that I was raised Christian and am still very taken by the personality of Jesus. “I love the guy” comes the retort “A real rebel, an anarchist”. And so the conversation began. We chatted for 2 hours and what I was amazed to discover is a girl who is on an amazing journey and delights in every minute of it.

Now, I would never mention a girl's date of birth simply because, in spite of my own personal preoccupations with transcendental numbers, I think numbers are totally irrelevant. But Lynnie Ruth, as her daddy used to call her back in Toledo, Ohio, is adamant that you all know she is 81 years young.

She published her first book thirteen years ago and launched her career as a stand-up comedian. Her appearance at EdFringe this year is the talk of the town and the reason is not the originality of the contents or her operatic voice: the reason is the woman’s unconquerable spirit that defies time, numbers, prejudices and preconceptions. She left home in her early twenties to marry but it did not last long. She tried it again a few years later and the second marriage didn’t really gel either so she then decided to “do her own thing”.

Having earned a Masters in Communication at Stanford she wanted to write, but she also knew she had to support herself, so she chose journalism. “Unfortunately, when I graduated, they were introducing equal pay for equal work, so here I was with a Master’s degree and no one could afford to pay me for an entry level job. In those days, you grew up, got married and had children. That was the goal.

"I’d been divorced twice by the time I was 30 and both times were so traumatic, I just didn’t want to be in a relationship again. I was all on my own and needed an income and the world just wasn’t designed for a single woman then. Our options were secretary, librarian, or prostitute and out of those three, I think I’d rather do the latter!”

Her act is autobiographical but with an infectious universality about it. The feminism in the piece is a genuine, lived plight of a woman who has dared to say no to society’s expectation and has instead proceeded to formulate her own course. “I don’t care if I upset people” she tells me. “I haven’t done anything but be myself. If that upsets people, that’s their problem, not mine”.

She now lives in Brighton and her career has gone from strength to strength. A Finalist of the California Funniest Female Awards in 2009, Winner of Time Out’s & Soho Theatre Cabaret Award in 2013 and Winner of the Leicester Comedy Festival Award in 2015, Lynn Ruth will guide you through eight decades of triumphant dedication to one principle: I do it my way. And to get to that you need strength and the power of your own convictions. Lynn Ruth Miller has both.

“It’s Christmas Eve, said the guy who was in charge of the trailer park. You can park here tonight but tomorrow it’s Christmas, you got to go. Watch it, I told him. Some guy told this to a Jewish girl a couple of thousand years ago and guess what she did on Christmas Day? She popped out the Messiah!” I can imagine that girl being just like Lynn Ruth.

If you are a man or a woman who loves women you must see this.

The author’s verdict is five stars for courage five stars for chutzpah. Five stars for not being afraid to be alive. Truly alive.

(c) Effie Samara 2015

'Get A Grip' is on at EdFringe between 5-31 August
C-Nova Venue 145
India Buildings, Victoria Street
18:00 daily.

Author's review: