Mark Butler – Let’s Talk About SEX
Mark Butler @ Electric Light Hotel (Beer Garden)
9:00pm, Mon 9 Mar 2009
Right. So. Mark Butler… I saw his show about swearing back in 2007, and remember being singularly unimpressed – and his audience handling left a lot to be desired. But I’m nothing if not generous, so I thought I’d give him another chance… and it was a Monday night, and bugger all else was on.
Of course, in retrospect, I should’ve just gone home early, basking in the glow of Holy Guacamole. Ah, hindsight, you really are a cruel mistress.
Pitched as “a sex education class for grown up boys and girls”, Butler presents the show in the guise of a teacher in front of a room full of kids… in fact, he uses pre-recorded child-like voices to simulate classroom babble, interspersed with (occasionally humorous) questions that keep the script rolling along. And it is a script, rather than a stand-up routine; Butler trots out his little factoids about sex (both human and animal) at a gentle pace, maintaining the teacher façade.
The problem is, though, that – as well-researched as the show may be – Butler simply isn’t very funny. Upon reflection, he strikes me as a stand-up comedian who really wants to be an actor; he has a part to play, and gets extremely grumpy if he’s not allowed to play it. This was most evident when he dragged a woman out of the audience for a bit of ritual humiliation; she rapidly proved that she was funnier than he (“how would you make this banana hard?” “well, I’d stick it in the freezer”), and then Butler couldn’t get her off the stage quick enough. Or maybe she just wanted to leave quickly to escape his presence: the content had a distinctly misogynist leaning (discussing oral sex, boys were encouraged to just grin and bear it; girls were told to suck it up and swallow with relish).
Surprisingly, there was a bloody big crowd in the beer garden at the Electric Light for this Monday night performance; there was a fair bit of laughter about, but there was a fair bit of beer about as well, and I prefer to think that the former came from the latter, and not necessarily from Butler’s ordinary antics. For the most part, this show left me (and the gorgeous lass next to me, on an uncomfortable night out with her dad) sighing, rather than giggling; I’ll not be affording Mark Butler any more opportunities, I reckon. Two are more than enough.