Trailer Park Boys: Community Service Variety Show

Gig review by Steve Bennett

There’s comedy for every taste these days. Even for that not-sought-after demographic of people who want to get wasted and yell out at the stage, not caring what, particularly, is occurring there. For that, there is the Trailer Park Boys.

These four Canadians don’t seem to have given much mind to what they are doing, either. For the blissfully uninitiated, these characters emerged from a mockumentary film and TV series – and they have continued the verité approach to their live work. For this is almost exactly what would happen if four real drunk losers, with nothing more on their mind than getting high, were to be let loose on a stage, with very little plan of what to do.

It’s unfocussed and seems to be largely unscripted, beyond the quartet yelling ‘what the fuck, man?' at each other, either out of desperation or padding. It’s hard to review them without sounding like a prudish stick-in-the-mud, but there really is little to this – I can barely bring myself to call it a ‘show’ – beyond blundering around on stage and swearing.

Yet they are phenomenally popular. At one point, they go into the near-full Hammersmith Apollo, selling burgers for a £5. Nothing more than this is happening for few minutes, but they are mobbed. Likewise, drunk volunteers flock to the stage for every half-baked game, just to be near the idols they hold in near rock-star status (indeed, the Boys have previously toured with Guns N Roses). The cheers they get for just appearing on stage are deafening.

Let’s do the introductions. Julian is the hardest drinker, and partner in petty-crime with Ricky, a fellow redneck who keeps mangling his words. Bubbles has Coke-bottle glasses that distorts his eyes into an admittedly funny caricature; while Randy is the perpetually shirtless assistant, flaunting his huge, hairy belly and capturing the events on a hand-held video camera.

Sometimes Bubbles dons a home-made superhero costume to emerge as Green Bastard - which makes no sense to those who aren’t already fans of the foursome, but means so much to others that a few lookalikes are dotted around the auditorium. This is a phenomenon full of in-jokes to baffle outsiders, such as chanting ‘Reveen’ at Ricky because of his resemblance to an obscure Canadian stage hypnotist – and presumabley adds to the tribal appeal of being a devotee.

The two-hour show is a series of shabby set pieces. Imagine sitting through the holiday snaps of four pewking, pissed louts whose brilliant wit extends to drawing cocks on the pictures. That’s 15 minutes right there. Then there are the tacky party games.

‘We’re looking for three women who can roll a joint and like the taste of rum... they’ve got to be party girls,’ goes the shout for one piece – which ends with 3,000 people yelling ‘Big Tits’ at an inebriated woman blowing raspberries on to Randy’s hirsute stomach. Classy.

And I won’t say much about the crude Blind Date-style game to preserve what precious little dignity the tipsy participants might have left.

This is an ugly celebration of pack culture, that’s nonetheless lapped up by the vociferous, largely drunk, audience. The bar can never have been busier, judging by the scores of people forever in and out of their seats, seeking a top-up. A man on the back row spent the entire night standing up, unsteadily, staring glassy-eyed as his brain tried to process the idea of a performance. Hollers rung out throughout; mindless heckles being part of the experience, apparently. A small mercy is at least there wasn’t no show to speak of to disrupt.

But let’s be positive. The song at the end, Liquor and Whores, was decent – and at least the Trailer Park Boys (aka Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay, Mike Smith and Patrick Roach) are keeping this crowd away from spoiling decent shows. But it’s an unedifying night if you want decent comedy.

Published: 4 May 2013

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