Wayne Carter Teaches You to Be Fabulous
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Dancing, drinking and self-reflective stand-up, this Aussie gay knows how to put on a show. 'Consistently hilarious and perpetually bizarre' (EdFringeReview.com).
Wayne Carter Teaches You To Be Fabulous
‘There’s no safe space here,’ Wayne Carter says, threatening that his aggressive audience participation will amount to ‘professional rape’, no less. But although he portrays himself as a predator, he’s way too amiable to create any real sense of danger. Certainly in a world of cabaret where his cross-dressing barely raises an eyebrow, his flamboyant flirting is almost (whisper it) conventional.
However he’s got the stories to convince us that he’s not, from getting off with a medical professional at work or shitting himself in a convenience store car park. It’s self-indulgent – how could it not be? – but not just in terms of the ‘me, me, me’ content. For routines often pan out in a woolly manner with Carter hoping his personality will cover weak writing Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.
He opens by lip-synching to a track that plays up the idea of him as a glamorous attention-seeking vamp. ‘Flash photography,’ we are warned. ‘Is mandatory’ – how else can his fabulousness be shared with the world? But, as he will later have to admit, the show descends into a ‘slag talking about how he got syphilis’.
The show’s ideal of high-camp, waspish humour contrasts with stand-up sections, which are told without pizzazz – and often without a sense of purpose. Each set up as a round of ‘never have I ever’. they are more conversations that punchy, honed stand-up – so no wonder some of the more chatty elements of the room take their cue to engage with him, making for a very loose performance.
But he has interesting tales and background, including a big chunk of indigenous Australian DNA. While some of the more scurrilous tales are cringe-inducingly memorable, others don’t amount to much. His coming out story is robbed of drama as his okker ‘lads’ lad’ dad immediately accepts the fact, while his ‘never have I ever… had sex on a first date’ is just exactly that, no punchline, just a fairly bald, universal fact. And if you have to consider whether a thought is racist – as Carter does in an anecdote where he is astonished to find a black man being camp – it probably is.
Changes in costume – typically everyday chic more than drag queen fabulous – are covered by his stand-up guest, today Nicky Osborne, a sort of slow-mo Lee Evans, having adopted many of his nervous tics and hesitant umms as well as his penchant for quite easy observational humour, which Osbourne mixes in with cheap gags about Prince Harry being ginger, for instance, or Twitter-style puns.
As for Carter himself, despite – or perhaps because of – his willingly confessed screwed-up behaviour, he comes across as friendly and surprisingly approachable. And so, when he mock-seduces some of the straight men in he audience, it’s not with the menace he foreshadowed. He’s just being over-friendly.