Review: Ashley with a ‘Y’ (Ashley Botting)

Picture of Ashley Botting in Ashley with a 'Y'

Ashley with a ‘Y,’ is created by Ashley Botting and is the kind of show that is compact enough to have one-night engagements easily. Most recently, it played for one night at the newly-renovated Paradise on Bloor, which now brings in live comedy and music shows along with films. It brings old Hollywood to life – if old Hollywood was having an existential crisis.

Ashley with a ‘Y’ started as a Fringe Festival show in 2018, was voted best comedy show of 2018 by Now Magazine and well-loved by our reviewer. I can see why. Botting, a Second City alum, is hilariously self-deprecating and sweetly debaucherous as she wears a sparkling diamond necklace and croons about hangovers and one night stands.

The show is improv. Before it begins, the audience is asked to write thoughts and suggestions on a piece of paper. Botting then picks them out of a bowl and turns those thoughts into songs about whatever associations she makes, or whatever strikes her fancy.

As Botting says onstage, this is her show, and she does whatever she wants. Through banter and song, the production offers observations on life, love, and self-image accompanied by Scott White on the piano.

The theatre itself is the perfect setting for this glamorous (in looks, not content) production. The red and purple lighting and draped velvet curtains give the show an elegant feel, along with the formal outfits Botting and Scott wear. It’s an excellent contrast to the not-so-formal sex and bawdy humour.

What I found most charming was the chemistry and coordination between Botting and White. Obviously very comfortable working together, the pair have great banter and often make each other laugh throughout the night.

Because this show is improv, you never quite know what you’re going to get at each performance. My guest said the production was “unexpected in a good way.” Although Ashley with a ‘Y’ was neither my or my guest’s particular brand of humour, we both had an excellent time.

This show speaks to an inner monologue and commentary on daily life that we can all relate to. Ashley with a ‘Y’ is an engaging production full of easy laughs.

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Photo of Ashley Botting by David Leyes