Thursday, April 1, 2010

Comedy Fest review: Talking Dirty in the Dark


Here's a story for you: a while back two comics were in Adelaide and decided to have a bit of a competition. The contest was to find the ugliest woman who'd sleep with them, and the result saw them taking back to their hostel (obviously living the glamorous comedian lifestyle) a midget and a woman with a brain injury. I think it was a midget – it may have been a dwarf and my shock-addled memory is playing tricks on me. Then again, it may have been that the people telling this story weren't aware of the difference anyway. The point is: isn't that a hilarious tale?!

No. Degrading and legally questionable, maybe, but not within farting distance of funny. It sort of summed up my experience of the inaugural Talking Dirty in the Dark and was one of the stories told by the four balaclava-clad, darkness-enshrouded and vocally-distorted figures who fronted up for this special event. The night was meant to feature comics delivering the material they've always deemed to risky or wrong to perform in public, but there's a difference between LOL SO WRONG and the other kind of wrong. Right?

To be fair, this story was being related second-hand by those on stage and didn't involve them personally. This doesn't make it any less fucked up, but partly exculpates the guys describing it since it seemed to me they were pretty identifiable despite the elaborate lengths they'd gone to in order to conceal their identity. I say 'partly' because they still chose to tell the damn thing.

But if this makes it sound like I'm a sour shit who can't handle un-PC humour, it should be noted that much of Talking Dirty in the Dark doesn't push any buttons at all. When the comedians were asked to name a fellow comic whose success has seemed to them inexplicable, they didn't name names. They also wouldn't respond when the question of “worst show you've worked on” came up. It's a small town and these guys want to stay in work. Sure. But don't write that cheque if you can't cash it.

Most of the jokes were your standard Rodney Rude stuff, ragging on women, gays, blackfellas, 'Mussies', 'chinks' and 'wogs'. You know what would have been scary and transgressive? Getting someone from any one of these categories up on stage too and still telling the same gags. There are enough of each in the festival. I guess there's a difference between censoring yourself out of fear or respect and being censored for not being a straight white guy in your twenties or thirties. Not so funny.

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