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Dirty Fan Male
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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2005
Dirty Fan Male
Cult hit of 2004 returns, but bigger, harder and ruder! Genuine letters to pornstars performed exactly as they're written. Filthy, hilarious and disturbing
As Jerry Springer: The Opera so brilliantly illustrated, there is a whole wealth of comedy to be discovered in the antagonistic clash of high and low culture. In Dirty Fan Male, middle-class soft-porn fan club mogul Johnny Trunk and well-spoken lounge singer, Duncan Whisbey, exploit this area. The results are effective, if limited in scope.
After his older sister became a ‘performer’ in the soft porn industry, the then-unemployed Trunk hopped onboard as manager of her fan club (and, eventually, as that of many of her colleagues). He began collecting the weirdest fan mail, and uses it this hour – articulated through Whisbey’s songs - to examine the mindsets of their authors.
The premise is amusing, with Trunk and Whisbey an adept, contrasting duo. Trunk remains deadpan throughout the hour in his role as informed narrator, even when there are nude photos of his sister being projected in the theatre, while Whisbey - dressed in purple cravat and a bow tie – sings his way through bizarre obscenities and frightening fantasies.
The latter character is particularly endearing, showing a nice talent for physical comedy as well as a versatile singing range to give voice to figures with monikers such as ‘Spunky Arthur’ or, more simply, ‘Lionel’, who only writes about his dreams.
However, once you’ve heard one sexual fantasy sung in a serious manner, you’ve heard them all. The show fails to progress from this initial joke and, despite Trunk’s fluent guiding narration, does not answer any of the more interesting questions raised.
Instead the audience are laughing at the slightly depraved men, and the mirth rate is only sustained by using increasingly filthy letters.
There’s a threat that a change in the law might force their industry to close, which offers some potential for emotional depth. But instead, the structure just dissolves into Whisbey skilfully performing more letters, assumedly acknowledging that there is nowhere for Trunk to take the narration.
On the other hand, you will laugh and the show is fortunately nowhere near as laddish as it sounds. It simply lacks any sort of depth or progression that would make a really great show.
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