Friday, 19 August, 2011

Let’s Talk About Sex

Edinburgh – The Three Sisters – 5-28 August 2011 – 2330 (1hr 30)

Late night sex talk

For a youthful, late night crowd, Shaggers is no doubt regularly drawing good sized audiences in, particularly as it’s free to attend. It certainly seemed to appeal to the student/traveller  crowd as host Nik Coppin started by asking where people were from. There were Argentinian, Australian and American contingents on offer as well as some native Scots and people from other areas of the UK.  Donning the show’s uniform – a red hoodie with Shaggers written upon it and a picture of two pandas appearing to copulate – Nik Coppin displayed good audience interaction and a demonstrative and lively delivery which a late night crowd can sometimes need to stir up its interest, enthusiasm and support for the performers.

The night is billed as being festival comedians talking about sex. First up, Suzy Bennett engaged very well with the audience and also presented herself as keen to garner any interest from its male members…in every sense of that particular turn of phrase. When she asked if anyone was interested and received no answer she went for a rather easy put down but then this isn’t perhaps the right gig to test out sophisticated material. Suzy Bennett delivered with a cheeky glint in her eyes and had solid jokes which were appropriate to the theme of the night. She also displayed another talent – that she can do the splits.

Andrew Doyle’s demeanour was more dour and straight faced, ironically enough for a gay comedian. He began with explaining why he’s had recent  rows with members of his family; with his brother after describing his wife as bovine and with his sister after the birth of her baby was revealed by a group text. Whilst claiming that he hasn’t come out to his parents,. Andrew Doyle seems to have no problem doing it to complete strangers. His interaction with an American student on the front row became somewhat uncomfortable as he was groping himself while asking the young lad what he does and likes. The student, even though he said he was straight, was then labelled as being gay. Much as comedy can have messages and change opinions, it can’t alter an individual’s sexuality.

Jo Wharmby was introduced as Shaggers’ resident sex therapist. She also revealed that another string to her bow is that she helps rehabilitate people after serious physical injuries or surgery. This was particularly ironic as she had to be helped onto the stage and was on crutches due to a fall earlier in the festival. Having to sit because of her plastered leg, Jo Warmby wasn’t easy to see in a flat seated venue with a raised stage, which perhaps made it difficult to engage with her. Her material is based on questionnaires she gave to people to ask them what they wanted from their partners sexually. Whilst delivering results from that survey, Jo Warmby delivered male opinions with a hat on and a northern accent. This didn’t really add anything – stating that it was a male opinion was enough. Her closing moments were to send the message of how beneficial orgasms are for peoples’ health, so there was a public information angle.

The final act was New Zealander Andre King who is on his first visit to the UK. Perhaps because of that, and his first appearance at Shaggers, he didn’t really stick to the remit. His opening section was about the difference between New Zealand and Australian accents as well as the variety of accents which exist in the UK. He clearly has a good ear and his ability to portray three different types of Scottish accent alone was impressive. His vocal delivery was well matched by his physicality and he presented good pictures of both an Aberdeen accent so aggressive it looked likely to lead to an aneurysm and a South London gangster style swagger. He was warmly received and was such a strong closing act that the fact that he was off topic didn’t really matter. Shaggers clearly has a varying line up and the fact that every night is different may well generate a regular audience.

Performers – Suzy Bennett, Nik Coppin, Andrew Doyle, Andre King, Jo Wharmby.

Producer – Nik Coppin

© Chandrika Chevli 2011

Reviewed on Tuesday 16th August, The Three Sisters.


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