Jason Rouse: My Darkest Hour

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

Canadian Jason Rouse is a comic who hasn’t quite grown out of the teenage rebellion phase.  Like his audience, he’s heavily tattooed, slightly pierced, and wearing low-slung jeans and a black T-shirt with a skull on it.

His avowed aim is to shock. As the title of the show suggests, this is the hour of the most depraved material he can come up with, designed with the sole intention to shock the grown-ups.

His brotherhood with those sections of the audience who look like him, but with bad skin, is underlined when they signal their approval not by laughing or clapping, but saluting with their fists, the two fingers making little devil horns. Well, that’s what they do at Slipknot gigs, so why not in a sparsely populated Pleasance Upstairs?

It’s at this point, just a few minutes in, that I realise this is not for me. This is comedy aiming right for that metalhead demographic. It seems to hit it square on the nose stud, too.

The material isn’t that shocking, because to shock it needs to be unexpected. Rouse’s lines, on the other hand, may be degenerate, but unfold with a tedious predictability. Whatever he starts talking about, you’re certain he’s going to end up fucking it, possibly with in an inappropriate object, possibly in the wrong orifice, possibly both – especially if whatever he started with was dead or diseased.

His unpleasantness is relentless, it’s like reading every bit of email spam offering you a gross sexual experience in one mind-numbing session.

He does get the desired reaction of nervous laughter among those in the audience who are shocked by it, the rest seem nonplussed, rather than offended.

But actually those in his audience who appear strait-laced can be more shocking than Rouse. A well-to-do couple from Bath provide the best moment of this particular night when, on being quizzed about anal sex, refused to feel awkward, as he intended. Instead, she revealed she had a sweet song she’d written about the subject, and proceeded to sing it.

Rouse has got a bit of charm to him – and all those usual microphone sound effects from the Nineties down to a T, so he can give an animated, punctuated performance. He even feigns a mock-innocent look at the end of a routine about, say, a ‘retard’ as if to distance himself from it.

But he’s not really as offensive as he wants to be. When he says the  c-word, he makes a big play of it… but it must be the 20th time  I’ve heard it that day – more if you count comics  complaining of bad reviews offstage.

So we’re left with something simply nasty, rather than challenging. And as there’s not all that much in wit and invention behind the material, it feels empty and lazy.  He executes this filth well enough and seems to have some fans, just that I can’t ever see myself among them.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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