Eric’s Tales of the Sea: A Submariner’s Yarn
Eric @ The Tuxedo Cat – Red Room
6:15pm, Thu 10 Mar 2011
Eric is a quiet, but focused and earnest, chap; with his short beard and chunky jumper, he’s the very epitome of the salt-encrustened sailor. And he introduces the show by informing us that he joined the Royal Navy at age sixteen, and was a submariner for seventeen years – he checks that no-one in the audience has the same aquatic experience, then explains that he’d have to present a bit of background material to help us understand things.
Twenty minutes later, after telling us of his introduction into his life in the Navy, Eric announces “this is where the show would start if you were submariners.” But far from being filler, those twenty minutes are well weighted gold; he tells us of his initial training, of his near-death experience during escape tank training, and of missing out on his graduating group photo because he was at the dentist; he also lays the groundwork for building the sense of camaraderie between the men in his unit (which seems to be inspired by equal parts gallows humour and initiation ceremonies – the “who comes first” wanking competition for beer is a painfully wonderful tale). He also informs us that submarines are clearly safer than airplanes – “there’s more planes in the sea than subs in the sky.”
Once we emerge into the “proper” show, however, Eric presents a sense of the isolation to be found at sea, punctuated by shark attacks and the occasional R&R break hijinks. Throughout, he refers to a particular friend in his group: Dick had been through training with Eric, and the two had remained close friends over the years… Eric even makes an early joke about “his love of Dick.” But the central thread of the Submariner’s Yarn sees Dick with some serious health concerns; there’s a brilliant twist in the tale of the story, though, with Eric selling the ending incredibly well.
I loved Eric’s Tales of the Sea. It’s not really a standup show – Eric is more of a raconteur than a comedian – but his pacing of delivery really hits the sweet spot, and his characterisations are superb. Add on slideshow that’s equal parts touching and absurd, and it’s a thoroughly entertaining show.