The idea behind this event was not particularly original. Get a bunch of stand up comedians together; ask them, and the audience, to discuss their ‘filthy stories’. Add in a stag party to abuse and ridicule and you have all the ingredients of a run of the mill comedy show. The reason why this show was so much better; was the ambitious performance of Phil Kay, who intelligently deconstructed the conservatism of the preceding acts and created a space for intellectual engagement.
There were some excellent, funny moments from all of the acts. Particular highlights were Rich Perry reading passages directly from an anti-smoking manual and John Tansy talking about genocide in the Bible. Claire Parker, a self-identified post-op transsexual, was funnier when she was talking about quantum physics and the shipping forecast, than when she directly referenced her sexual identity. The best moments happened when the comedians used oblique, ostensibly unfunny, material to create humour.
The endless references to stag nights, dog’s erections and bowel movements were both unfunny, and in a sense, not all that filthy, to describe an event in those terms almost negates the ability of the comedians and the audience to become shocked, the expectations are there already, there is nowhere for the humour to go.
The final act, Phil Kay, came on stage with a strange, twitchy attitude, using the space in an intensely physical way, deconstructing his own act, and the acts that had gone before. In response to heckling about his recent on-stage ‘breakdown’ he replied with an improvised song which more than combated his critics. This performance exposed the sneering conservatism of much comedy, and hinted at the true ‘filth’ in evidence at this show, not the jokes about lap dances, but the schadenfreude of an audience waiting to see a man fail. This awkward and electrifying experience was unmissable.