Shagadelic: The Origins of Slang Words For Doing It | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Shagadelic: The Origins of Slang Words For Doing It

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Very little at the Fringe is what it seems, but this lecture on the origins of euphemisms for making love is precisely what it says in the title. 

Professor Richard Fondler (geddit?) is a bowtied, 60something academic who addresses us ‘students’ on the genuine etymology of euphemisms and idioms for screwing, banging, shagging, boning, playing hide the sausage, making the beast with two backs, coitus, rumpy-pumpy, horizontal jogging, getting your leg over and good old-fashioned fucking.

The parade of naughty words has plenty in the room laughing raucously, perhaps at the incongruity of this well-dressed, superficially strait-laced man delivering such content. But the material is very straightforward – straight-up educational much of the time. One of the biggest laughs comes from the good professor describing what ‘motorboating’ means, entirely accurately.

He slips a few dad-joke puns in the lecture, which work nicely for being so underplayed (‘I might be bisexual because when I broach the subject of sex, my date goes "bye…"’), ditto his straight-faced ‘yee-haa’ing to demonstrate the cowgirl position or carefully intoning super-suggestive Little Richard lyrics.

A few of the phrases he examines are so obscure as to be new to the room, but he doesn’t go full Roger’s Profanisaurus on us with extravagantly graphic metaphor. He sticks to genuine phrases and finds no shortage, especially with a detour into what euphemisms other languages use.

Although some of the phrases barely need explaining, Prof Fondler  throws up some interesting facts. I’m not sure ‘nail’ is anything but an obvious analogy, for instance, but his true story of Tahitian women trading sex for iron with 18th Century British sailors is an eye-opener.

Prof Fondler is actually Mike Blaha, a producer who has been bringing American talent to the Fringe for more than 20 years, and who last year presented the similar Spanking The Monkey: The Etymology of Onanistic Euphemisms.

There’s obviously a market for this and, at the risk of evoking another euphemism, the content went down well. But although properly researched and nicely presented – including a fantastic poster photo, above – there’s not much comic inspiration in the scripts.

Review date: 20 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ The Hanover Tap

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