Kevin Bloody Wilson Dilligaf tour

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

From even the slimmest knowledge of Kevin Bloody Wilson’s reputation, you’d probably know what to expect. If you didn’t, his pre-show video, a montage of him signing lots of naked breasts, would give you a clue that this is comedy for the Nuts crowd, with 90 minutes or so of coarse songs about sex, drinking and bodily functions.

But a couple of numbers in – including the opener which explains that the tour’s title is based on the military acronym Do I Look Like I Give A Fuck – comes something of a shock.

Wilson shows us a slide of a road sign he saw on his travels in New Zealand, based on a Maori place name. The sign reads: ‘Whakapaki Street.’ And a huge cheer of approval goes up. Not an embarrassed laugh at the unfortunate connotations, but rally-style whoops of appreciation at the idea from 400 white people. I’m suddenly very uncomfortable – and the fact that it feels as if I’m the only one makes the feeling worse.

Racism runs right through this show. True, many of his songs have an earthy, lads-night-out appeal, the bad-taste pub gags are well told, and he knows how to build a real bond with his audience, reinforcing the fact we’re all supposedly drunken ‘sick bastards’. But the race stuff keeps rearing its ugly head, leaving a nasty taste that can’t be flushed with any number of knob gags.

He talks about black people making good Formula One mechanics because they can swipe tyres in seconds, he’ll refer to ‘coons’ and ‘negroes’, he’ll rewrite Living Next Door To Alice so it’s about an ‘Abo’ family moving in next door with their dozens of kids and sponging accommodation and a swanky Mercedes off benefits. The payoff is the ‘Abo’ telling his white neighbour: ‘At least we’ve got no coons living next door to us.’ This is a line that hack British club comics used in the unenlightened Seventies – so it’s not just offensive, it’s at least 30 years old.

Wilson makes clear he has no time for politically correct ‘do gooders’, but is it really too big an ask not to use words with such hateful connotations so casually?

And it’s not just ‘blackfellas’ who get it. He makes a passing reference to being spiteful to ‘Japs’. And his Muslim character is a minicab driver called Mohammad Achma-lick-my-arse who wears a turban (which would surely more than likely make him a Sikh, but hey, they’re all the same aren’t they?)

His defence seems to be the hoary old ‘I can’t be racist, cos one of my best friends is black’. We hear a lot about aborigonal Nigel, who is such a feature of his show that he has his own call-and-response catchphrase, with the audience shouting ‘fucking legend’ every time his name is mentioned, which it seems like it is every damn minute. Nigel, of course, drinks a lot (he comes from the ‘Crackatinnie’ tribe) and is invoked every time there’s dodgy material about black people committing smash-and-grab raids or rewriting the Bob Dylan line to become: ‘How many times must a coon fall down before you must call him a cab?’

Lest you think he’s just peddling racist material, Wilson’s got some homophobia too. ‘A bloke who can look at another bloke’s arse and get a stiffy, there’s got to be something wrong with them. No wonder they call them queers,’ he opines.

Oh, and then there’s the misogyny, with a song about wishing his wife would ‘fuck off out of my life’ and take her ‘fat arse’ and ‘fucking ugly head’ with her. What a charmer.

There is more to his show than the bigotry, but it just can’t be ignored. He mainly wants to be seen as continuing the tradition of bawdy drinking ballads in the vein of Good Ship Venus, and he might have a point. His songs, written in his natural vernacular and sometimes performed to a cheesy backing track, include asking a girl bluntly ‘do you fuck on first dates?’, recalling a holiday in Bali with ‘I’ll never shit solids again’ or simply running through a profanisaurus of euphemisms for the vagina. It’s pub rock, with singalongs encouraged. ‘Your turn,’ he urges cheerily in almost every song, and the crowd need no further prompting to join the chorus.

For the long-term fans, who seem to comprise this entire audience and love every minute, Wilson mixes old favourites with tracks from his new CD. Some of the ‘golden oldies’ are dispatched in a medley at the end, while he has another long blend of more formulaic lyric-swap material using songs that are almost as old as his attitudes, from the likes of the Bellamy Brothers and Renee and Renato, whose1982 song Save Your Love becomes ‘Shave Your Muff’.

Support comes from his daughter Jenny Talia – and the fruit hasn’t fallen far from the tree, as in style and content she certainly follows the family tradition. Although, she did have one genuinely funny anecdote about her father encountering her husband, and she thankfully hasn’t inherited her father’s museum-piece racism.

You might think I’ve concentrated too much on his antiquated racist language and ideas in this review – given that it’s only a relative small part the show. But there’s really only one answer: Dilligaf.

Review date: 18 Sep 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Beck Theatre

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