Simon Keck: Eating Tiger Dicks
Simon Keck @ Rhino Room – Howling Owl
10:00pm, Tue 10 Feb 2015
Simon Keck’s Nob Happy Sock was one of the best surprises in last year’s Fringe: an absolutely brilliant show, discussing incredibly dark topics, that came almost unannounced and blew my mind. And with Keck only affording his new show a short run in Adelaide (prior to taking it to Fringe World), and the opportunity to create a nice three-show run on the opening night of Festivities, it was a no-brainer to slot this performance in.
Eating Tiger Dicks sees Keck delivering lines via two mouthpieces: Tug DeLabranska, a self-help guru, is the show’s central character, cajoling the audience with ludicrous and conflicting new-age platitudes. Keck himself essentially narrates Tug’s sudden descent from all-conquering guru, through drug episodes and blackmail attempts against him, in a clever script that uses the transition between the two personae effectively. There’s a few accompanying PowerPoint slides – you’d better like your arseholes to be anthropomorphised – and a plot-line that threatens to spiral out of control before coming together for a tight finish.
But this was opening night for the show (a world premiere!), and things… well, things did not go smoothly.
Not only did Keck regularly require line readings – awkward the first time, but genuinely comical and played-for-laughs by the tenth – but his tech at the Howling Owl also struggled: with lighting controls at one end of the bar, the laptop controlling the accompanying PowerPoint at the other, and the light by which he could check the script in the middle, the tech was running a confused track up and back behind the bar all show. Slides came up early, lights dropped late, and… well, it was a little messy.
And then there was a bit of crowd interaction. Which, of course, meant Me.
Initially (I thought) dragged up for a bit of scripted banter, Keck then turned and returned to his monologue with the audience… all but ignoring me onstage. I tried to creep back to my seat, and was roundly admonished; the conclusion of my involvement – which, we were all assured, would be “worth it” – was awkward for pretty much everyone. (Keck asked for feedback at the end of the show; I suggested that the audience participant bit was “too long on stage”. Keck replied that he wanted it to be really awkward for the audience member… Mission accomplished, sir!)
But here’s the thing: even with all the opening night mistakes – the line calls, the missed lighting cues, the premature PowerPoints – Eating Tiger Dicks was still bloody funny. Indeed, some of the line calls and early glimpses at slides made parts of the show seem almost cunningly prescient… like they were part of some elaborate design to subvert the audience’s expectations. Keck’s apologies and requests for feedback at the end of the show scotched that idea, but the fact remains that I had a lot of fun with this performance… even with my incredibly awkward time on stage.