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Brett Goldstein Grew Up In A Strip Club

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Brett Goldstein has such a great story to tell, it almost seems like cheating. The title’s a little misleading, but at the age of 21, his fresh-faced innocence was shattered when he accidentally found himself spending 12 months running a strip club in Marbella. As you might expect, it hardly attracted the most salubrious of clientele – Armenian hitmen, the Irish mafia – while the boss was psychotic and the staff characterful, to say the least.

Goldstein has filtered the funniest moments of that formative experience into an expertly told hour-long story, bringing out the mordant wit of what must have been a tough time. The brief list of incidents he mentions in passing that were too strong to fit into a stand-up show only reinforces the idea that this was a terrifying place for a kid just out of university – where, honestly, he studied film and feminism – to find himself. Like many details here, his degree seems so unlikely that it just has to be true, as a dramatist would probably step back and say ‘no, no, that’s too much’…

Even with Goldstein’s charisma and skill, this isn’t a laugh-out-loud romp, and struggles to fit its ‘comedy’ billing. But it is a tale as vicariously gripping as any gangster movie, full of drugs, power trips and larger-than-life personalities. This is not about the seedy sexual side of the business; even as a hormonal youth, Goldstein had bigger problems on his mind, and the girls barely get a look-in in his tale.

He’s a warm and open guide through the year. By admitting from the get-go he was way out of his depth in a job he only found himself in because his father was living out some mid-life crisis fantasy, he gets the audience’s sympathy. And in the telling, he has great timing, pace and sense of dramatic storytelling that keeps the action moving – as well as the ability to really create a sense of mood and of place, even though most of his audience probably aren’t familiar with the environment.

Maybe it is this way he tells it, but the overall impression is that this yarn would make a cracking film; an eventful, complex Scarface on the costas that could aim for drama as much as the laughs. That, in the end, is the only reservation about this as a comedy – although there elements of farce here, it’s more of a spoken word show than a stand-up one. But if you’re in the mood for an engrossing bit of storytelling, slip Goldstein a few quid and he’ll perform for you.

Review date: 7 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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