John Pendal: How to Escape from Stuff (3 stars)

This article is from 2017

John Pendal: How to Escape from Stuff

credit: Steve Ullathorne

How to break free from a cuffed past

After a strict Baptist upbringing, shy Watford boy John Pendal won the International Mr Leather contest in Chicago, then toured the world, having adventures in assless chaps and rubber cop uniforms as an ambassador for fetishwear.

That was a pretty good premise for his debut comedy show last year, but Pendal somehow forgot to mention that he also happened to spend ten years as an amateur escapologist: the premise for his second show. The comedian once described as 'a deviant you could take home to mum' greets his audience individually as they arrive, with The Great Escape theme playing in the background. He goes through the basics of rope-play, where a 'rigger' (often straight men, occasionally straight cowboys, in his case) tied him up and he'd have to escape.

Tips on safe words, removing handcuffs and recognising knots add a Boy Scout-practical tone, where Pendal wipe-cleans any potential smut from his BDSM for beginners tutorial, focusing on his cat-loving, sci-fi geek side instead. His gentle, polite delivery is possibly overly scripted (he does mention his uptight, control-freak tendencies; unlike his ropes, it's more fun when he loosens up), but smart observations on the 'nambypambyfication of Britain' and Michael Gove's creepy confidence tie everything together nicely.

The Stand 4, until 27 Aug (not 14), 4.45pm, £8 (£7).

John Pendal: How to Escape from Stuff

  • 3 stars

John Pendal / The Stand Comedy Club John’s beautifully candid 2016 show, International Man of Leather, won the hearts of audiences and critics alike and went on to tour the world. This year he looks back on the decade he spent as an amateur escape artist. It all began when he was tied up by missionaries on a Welsh beach…