Scott Capurro's Position

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

If any chat show is only as good as its guests, Scott Capurro’s new live venture looks promising indeed, with the likes of Ken Livingstone, Julian Clary, Brain Paddick and Graham Norton all lined up to join him at South London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

But guests are only half the equation, and Capurro wouldn’t perhaps be most commissioning editors’ first choice as host, particularly when causing offence is a paralysing fear. Not only is his stand-up act so thoroughly filthy that he’d make the pre-Sachsgate Jonathan Ross look like Mother Theresa’s maiden aunt, but also his persona is so narcissistically self-centred that you’d think it would be well nigh impossible for anyone else to get a word in edgeways.

It turns out that he can be generous with the limelight, and in conversation with Jo Caulfield prompted plenty of anecdotes about her family – especially her brother the Catholic priest (cue lots of sniggering paedophile gags) – and opinions on the perceptions of female stand-up. This opening segment was amicable and moderately entertaining, but with his lascivious wit neutered, there was little to separate Capurro from any other attentive and confident interviewer.

In the second section, all changed. As Capurro interviewed cabaret artist Dickie Beau – following his mesmerising and moving turn lip-synching to a tragi-comic interview with a drunkenly defiant Judy Garland – the tables were turned as the host did more talking than his subject. We learned much about Capurro’s hang-ups, family and relationships - all told with the deliciously biting wit for which he is rightly known, but the talk-show aspect was all-but forgotten as the catty San Franciscan held court.

The balance was better with Jerry Springer: The Opera composer Richard Thomas - not a natural on stage but clearly an interesting interviewee, and the devilish star of that controversial production, David Bedella, who sang powerfully but gave nothing away in conversation.

In the final section came the man most had surely come to see: Graham Norton, hotfooting it from his changing room in La Cage Aux Folles. Waiting for him to travel in from the West End made for a long night - but the wait was worth it, as the ever-charming Irishman proved as cheekily entertaining as an interviewee as he is as an interviewer, regaling the audience with his impishly indiscreet showbiz confessions and pithily expressed opinions on the nature of his job.

The banter here flowed the easiest it had all night; with the well-matched Capurro and Norton batting the conversation back and forth like Forrest Gump playing ping-pong. This might have been Capurro’s first bash at a talk show, but by the end he had found his feet.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, however, might not have been the best choice of venue for such an experiment. Much of the well-lubricated audience at this predominantly gay bar, perhaps more used to seeing rambunctious cabaret here, found it difficult to keep schtum, proving distracting at best, disruptive at worst.

But maybe they - like Capurro himself - haven't yet had time to quite adjust to the mechanics of this format.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
March 19, 2009

Review date: 1 Jan 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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