Rick Shapiro

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Raw, honest, uncompromising – those are the qualities the very best exponents of stand-up tend to display.

But even the most edgy of cult heroes usually bring at least some technique to their art; adapting the abrasive , antisocial elements of their personality into a form fit for public consumption, working on how best to phrase their angry thoughts into jokes.

Rick Shapiro has no such filter.

What you get is the real him, with messy, sprawling ideas, ill-directed fury and no editor on he says. He is spitting out his internal monologue, thinking on his feet but not necessarily thinking it through. He’s probably the closest thing we have to Lenny Bruce – for good and for bad. There’s an absolute integrity and candour to the set, but it’s also all over the shop: sometimes pointless and waffly, sometimes revelatory.

It could be a car crash, and the thrill that he will finally topple adds to the uncomfortable excitement. We’re slightly scared of this ranting lunatic with attention deficit disorder, stripped down to the waist and pacing through the room – some laughs are nervous, but plenty are genuine, too, as there’s a savage, dark wit at the heart of his tirades.

His back story is that he was once a heroin junkie who turned to male prostitution to feed his habit and pay the $9-a-night cost of staying in hostel. In other hands, this could make for an archetypal redemption show, tightly directed, full of drama and pathos. In his, it’s just another reason to be angry, a payoff to many a routine, barked out as a matter of fact to explain his rough edges, rather than seeking any sympathy.

If Iggy Pop did stand-up, he would be Rick Shapiro. He’s surely the world’s most feral comedian, and his electric, untamed energy should appeal to any hardcore stand-up fan seeking an extreme hit. Just don’t expect a tight one-liner.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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