Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Comedy Fest review: Tim Key - The Slutcracker


They say context is everything but I reckon content should get a look-in once in a while. Tim Key won the Edinburgh Comedy Award last year and I know people who saw that show and raved about it. I was wondering whether the space it played there added something to the piece that was lacking from the thing I saw, but it scored a five star review in yesterday's Age so clearly it's me who's having the problems finding that elusive something in Key's act. I think that something may be comedy.

The Slutcracker is billed as “a confused procession of idiosyncratic poetry and prose” and reports hint that from these unlikely beginnings spring a unique and utterly unexpected kind of performance. Given the praise he's received, I don't think it will hurt much if I say that nothing of the sort occurs. You get exactly what you expect: a highly confused procession of idiosyncratic poetry and prose. Key reads really short poems from a bunch of notebooks in his pockets (and reviewers always make a point of praising the fact that he has lots of little notebooks in his pockets - I don't get it. Why is that something special? It's like writing "all the while, the comedian demonstrates his keen grasp of stand-up conventions by holding a genuine microphone in his hand and at perfectly timed moments even speaking into it."). In between the poems, he talks about stuff in a mildly engaging but mostly uninspired way. He introduces the night by apologising to any sluts who'd turned up hoping to be cracked – sorry sluts, he says, but the title doesn't mean anything. Do you see how he's turned comedy on its head there? Me neither.

The poems aren't bad, but for me the response to each was around the level of “I acknowledge that a moment of humour has just occurred”. The show's three acts are broken up by short films that manage the rare feat of being both boring and baffling, attempting a kind of dark surrealism that just comes off as a lack of ideas.

The one exception is the nicely shot film in which some office workers gut an eel. It looked like a real eel. Which would be enough to shift this show from 'gently entertaining' to 'fucking retire, you twat'.

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