John Gordillo: Divide & Conga

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

John Gordillo has promoted himself as a middle-class, respectable intellectual during his numerous years in comedy - and now he reveals his true self. Gordillo performs with a remarkable honesty and a heart-rendering, passionate intensity whilst discussing his relationship with his difficult Spanish father.

Gordillo’s mother died when he was three, leaving him to be brought up by his unashamedly fanatical Marxist dad and his paternal grandmother. His father’s political beliefs and fast temper impacted heavily on Gordillo’s childhood, forged his belief systems and influenced the way he interacts with his own son. It has led him to be intensely non-partisan, always looking for the other side’s point of view.

This is a soul laid bare on stage and yet at no point does it feel self-pitying, indulgent or like a therapy session. The extreme views and behaviours of a stringent sociallist develop into comedy gold as Gordillo impersonates his dad stirring revolution in a Post Office, screaming ‘warpath for the working class’ at a clerk for closing a service window.

Gordillo Sr laments constantly about the struggles of living under Franco’s fascist dictatorship and is fast to liken anyone following ‘the system’ to Hitler, which presents his son with some hilarious material on Adolph's career choices after the war, driving a number 47 bus or working in a TV repair shop.

Gordillo is intrigued by the reasoning behind his father’s extremism and the topic becomes more global as he struggles to comprehend political, religious and emotional fundamentalism.

The laughs come thick and fast despite the emotive subject – and it’s not all Nazis and Marxists. The political musings are placed on hold while Gordillo slams free range farming, school nativities and Zippo’s circus. It is when he recounts his miserable day at the circus that he displays some of his father’s temper. So incensed is he by the woeful offerings of chubby acrobats and stumpy horses he is compelled to take notes, which he kindly recites to the audience tonight.

The fury and laughs just keep building as the descriptive metaphors for this joyless day out become more and more poetic and hateful, ‘the plague with juggling’, ‘travelling discharge’. The venom is surprising but balanced and Gordillo manages to squeeze some massive laughs from some obvious but untapped observations.

It is impossible to describe the concluding section without doing it a disservice. He warns the crowd that it will not be funny, and it’s not. It is a highly charged, beautifully written piece of theatre and yet absolutely belongs in this comedy show. It is moving, inspiring and important and something that everyone should make a point of seeing.

Gordillo is an inspiration, a consummate performer with an amazing talent, passion and intellect. If you are after cheap, silly laughs avoid this, but if you want intelligent, moving comedy with a point, then you cannot afford to miss it.

Reviewed by: Corry Shaw

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.