[2010035] Shaggers

Shaggers [FringeTIX]

Nik Coppin, Ro Campbell, Oliver Clark, Brad Oakes, Bart Freebairn @ The Tuxedo Cat – Attic

10:00pm, Sun 21 Feb 2010

After last year’s Shaggers episode (which included moments of extreme fish-out-of-water discomfort), I was a little reluctant to schedule this one in so early; but with “we’re just friends” Irene as my partner-in-crime I felt a little safer this year.

And, without further ado: this was, quite possibly, one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen.

But it’s important to put that into context.

Most significantly, there were four of us in the audience that night. Irene and myself, merrily sloshed at this stage, along with the married-for-thirty-odd-years Ingrid and Joe. Ingrid & Joe took their seats halfway back in the empty room while we continued pissing on at the bar; Irene (a) is blind, and (2) brings out the bravery in me, so we grab a cocktail table directly in front of them, then goad them into coming up front to join us. It’s all friendly laughs when emcee Nik Coppin takes to the stage, encourages introductions amongst the four of us, and then explains how Ingrid, prior to ascending to the Attic, had asked him whether this was a “dirty” show; “well, it’s a show about shagging,” Nik had replied, “but I’ll talk to the boys and we’ll try to clean it up a bit.”

And then he introduced Ro Campbell.

And he was fucking filthy.

Ro started out rude, moved onto tales of cunnilingual spelunking in the back of a ute, then wrapped up with the Wrongest Thing He’s Ever Written (a joke involving Roman Polanski, Jack Nicholson’s hot-tub, Bindi Irwin, and a stingray). By the time the ultimate punchline of the joke comes around (which my own sick little mind predicted), I’ve completely lost my shit – tears are in my eyes, Irene is crying “stop it” repeatedly, and Ingrid is laughing her arse off.

And suddenly Ro Campbell is a must-see.

Oliver Clark is up next with his cheesey schmaltz. Heavy on the innuendo (as befits a Shaggers show), his hip-thrusting closer was particularly amusing – “since it’s such a small crowd, you get another go each” he crooned, pointing his fingers and crotch in each of our faces in turn.

And then came Brad Oakes. Now, in their defence, most of the comedians tonight had been partaking of frivolities down at the Fringe Club prior to fronting up for Shaggers – but Brad was clearly worse-for-wear. Chucking his foot on one of our cocktail tables – and then struggling to keep his balance – he introduced us to his runners, bemoaned his lack of sex, threw in some arse-fingering jokes, then somehow staggered away again, leaving us chortling away.

At this stage, Irene’s finished the drink she was nursing; Coppin, back onstage to introduce the final act, asks if she’d like another. Yes, she replies, and Coppin summons the lonely barstaff to bring the appropriate beverage. “I’ll have a glass of red, too,” I called. Nik looked incredulous – even more so when Ingrid and Joe also re-upped their orders. The drinks came – “best show EVER!” I exclaimed – and, speechless at our brazen attempts to leverage his hospitality (and meagre profits), Coppin went the whole hog and presented us with DVDs and flyers, ordering us to at least spruik the show for him.

And so, to our final act: Bart Freebairn. Now, I’ve not been super-keen on Bart’s work in the past, but when he dragged a beanbag onto stage and parked himself in it sans microphone, surrounded by the four of us, it just rounded the night off beautifully. Sure, I’d heard the bulk of the material before (the wrongest-thing-he’s-had-said-to-him-during-sex bit), but tonight – in this intimate space and inebriated state – it just worked.

I was pretty bloody hammered by the time this show finished (and then we kicked on at the TuxCat’s rooftop bar for a decent old Sunday night session), but I’ll be buggered if it wasn’t one of the funnest hours I’ve ever had. The intimacy of the show just made it utterly memorable, one of those experiences that I’ll cherish always. It obviously made an impact on Joe & Ingrid, too, because they spied Irene and myself in The Garden a week later, leading to even more laughs.

There you go, then – Shaggers: the show that keeps on giving.

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