Ian Cognito: Skate Naked Go Mad in…Glasgow

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

‘That could be another club I’m banned from,’ Ian Cognito laments as he takes the Glasgow Stand’s stage for the third and possibly final time to close this ill-planned, chaotic yet captivating evening of comedy, music and semi-nude gymnastics. For once, the temperamental cockney is only partially to blame, with his support act and backing band Skate Naked taking a substantial share of the credit for making this event what it was, a truly entertaining health and safety nightmare.

To begin, we get classic Cognito, 49 years old now, but with the Guinness and the devil still in him. An attractive female latecomer fails to escape his appreciation and he quickly establishes his aggressive rhythm of puncturing liberal sensibilities. Barking out his greatest hits – from taking the disabled to task for parking in ‘normal’ car park spaces to delivering an emotive entreaty on domestic violence, then suggesting Posh Spice deserves a slap – it’s deliciously nasty stuff and the crowd laps it up.

With his greying beard, the sheer violence of Cognito’s rant against the increasing number of blades on razors elevates his diatribe above the usual stock observations on this well-shorn topic, with a killer denunciation of Gillette’s ‘Best A Man Can Get’ slogan to round it off. Admonishing his kids, decrying a career that has never let him near television, veering between the self-pitying and the explosively defiant, there’s a Lear-like charisma to this menacing old bastard, even as he catches himself repeating material, snarling at the front row for noticing.

After a brief interval, it’s the turn of Skate Naked. Comedy works best in rooms with low ceilings, like the Stand. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for acrobatics. Street performers in G-strings, Pete Gazely and Paul Ackerman are best described as the Cesar Twins meets Jackass… with flaming torches and whips. Suffice to say, their failures are often more entertaining than their successes and there’s a grim fascination in wondering whether a man will indeed light his own pubic hair.

Successive handstand arrangements have the front rows steadily retreating and the club’s sound equipment buffeted. Then Gazely inflates a pink rubber glove to bursting on his head using nothing but his nostrils, as bizarre a sight as you might ever wish to see. His efforts to whip chopsticks and a lit cigarette from between Ackerman’s arse dissolve in calamitous farce, with the club’s security staff moving swiftly and angrily to extinguish the latter, but not before the whip brings a series of ominous looking cables down from the ceiling. Time for another interval and running repairs.

Reappearing as a three-piece band, Cognito leads on guitar and vocals, the rock ‘n’ roller he maintains he always wanted to be. Although there’s an element of self-indulgence here, Cognito has a decent, lusty voice and the songs’ sentiments don’t really differ from the stand-up interspersing them.

Kettledrum samples provide a calypso vibe to a track called Life, full of advice like ‘never French kiss a leper’, while among all the bluesy wails of self-regret and rails against the number of comics who’ve turned teetotal, one song stands out simply for its howled ‘Oh no! Oh fucking no! Oh no! Oh fucking no!’ refrain.

Oscar Wilde is evoked in the pursuit of a desperate bunk-up and the evening ends with a proper old knees-up, the audience chorusing along to the notion that ‘you can really get rich with a nice pair of tits’.

‘We’ve never done this show before and we may never do it again,’ Cognito admits afterwards, which would be a tremendous shame if true. There was a compelling anarchy to this show, harking back to an era when stand-up was less slick and less carefully stage-managed, and it’s to be hoped that Cognito and Skate Naked make good on their threat of taking this shambles to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Glasgow, March 14, 2008

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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