Talk of the Fest
This article is from 2006.
A disclaimer: the guest rota on this late night talk show-with-a-difference changes daily, so all The List can go on is what we saw on one night. And what we saw was bloody brilliant. Compèred by Paul Provenza, director of The Aristocrats, the idea is to have various name Fringe acts stop by and talk about their art, about where they tow the line in terms of subject matter; and why they don’t, if not. It’s not a Late Show-style talking heads affair, but a near free-for-all of opinion and invective, occasionally punctuated with frank and coarse anecdotes which bring the audience close to the backstage world of comedy.
The night of this review saw Brendon Burns and Janey Godley sitting in the wings, and Andre Vincent (who made material out of his battle against cancer) on stage. Crucially, however, Doug Stanhope was also sharing the sofa, and his fuming contributions emphasised the fact that this show aspires to be the very blood-stained serrations on the cutting edge of comedy at the Festival. You won’t learn more about the twisted, cannibalistic and potentially genius workings of the comedian’s mind until you hear the kind of rant he was afforded here.
The subject of child abuse appears. ‘Fuck,’ grumbles Stanhope, ‘I’m so jaded that if somebody raped me I’d say “great, material!”’ They discuss racism and the handicapped, and Stanhope enters into a tale on the latter subject that’s offensively portrayed, but ultimately makes his point. Yet what is offensive, and to whom? Is it ignorant not to laugh, or is it compassionless to join in? Talk of the Fest will test which end of the scale you sit at (and as many were utterly pissing themselves as sitting stony-faced here), but a motto Provenza swipes from George Carlin demonstrates how entirely uncaring the most boundary-pushing comedian must be of their audience’s sensibilities: ‘I’m here for me; you’re here for me; no one’s here for you. So fuck off.’ (David Pollock)
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