And we’re back!
Tonight’s very badly-mimed opening theme is performed by some attractive ladies in basques. Items of clothing, not the region of Spain and France, obv.
Nick Grimshaw and Scott Mills take the stage. They are dressed like camp Roman Gladiators, and we don’t mean holiday camp.
‘I feel like a slut’, says Mills. ‘But where are we going to find you one at this time of the night’, thinks everyone on the planet.
Mills and Grimmy begin working the audience again, which is brilliant to see.
Tonight’s guest host is: Joey Essex (off of The Only Way Is Essex, or TOWIE to its friends). We like TOWIE, but we’re not too sure about Joey. He’s a bit, you know, thick.
Joey underlines this thought by admitting he thought the Edinburgh Festival was going to be 10,000 people in a field. Aww, he’s sweet. But thick. Joey has chosen to wear a baseball cap backwards. Someone should tell him that look is *so* 80s darling.
The first act is the singing comedy duo Frisky and Mannish.
Disclaimer: we’ve seen Frisky and Mannish live. We like them. They’re good. They’re funny. They’re entertaining. I have a serious crush on Laura Corcoran (aka Frisky). End of disclaimer.
Frisky gets out a Ukelele – I love her even more, even though she doesn’t play it! – and they neatly carve a musical path between the ‘kooky’ girls of pop and the ‘edgy, grungy’ girls of pop. This section was not long enough, but very cutting.
Next up is twat-haired Russell Kane. Russell’s patter begins by telling us he’s single. Ah, another Match.com customer. Maybe he should hook up with the comedienne from the other night? Anyway. Twat hairstyle aside, Russell’s material is sharp; examines a few national stereotypes and makes some social commentaries in exactly the knife-edged-with-a-smile way they should be done. He makes the Edinburgh audience laugh – and this remote viewer laughs too. Anyone who can slip a perfectly in-context reference to Plato, into a Cheryl Cole/X-Factor monologue, and tie that in to a comparative tale of a woman getting stoned to death for adultery, clearly has a much wider beam than I’d previously given him credit for.
I do wonder how many of Radio 1s target audience would actually ‘get’ the full force of Russell’s deployment of irony, but as far as I’m concerned, this is where Billy Bragg’s social commentary was 20 years ago. I look upon Russell with new-found respect. He’s also funny. Who knew?
Mills and Grimmy retake the stage, Grimmy walks among the audience and solicits reviews – working the crowd again. Mills takes the piss out of Grimmy. A member of the audience gets on-stage and meets Joey Essex and I take a long hard drink from the glass on my table.
Joey seems to have said ‘Chinese people’ in a reference to the Ladyboys of Bangkok, but my hearing could have been faulty.
Le Gateaux Chocolat is announced as the next act. Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, in a bass voice, is sung by a very competent male singer, somewhere off-stage. Eventually a guy eases on to the stage as he continues to sing…. He’s dressed like a chocolate gateau. No, seriously. But, looks aside, this guy has a fabulous voice. The contradiction between his voice and his costume (not to mention his makeup – he looks like he’s spent too long browsing the makeup counter at Boots!) makes my head spin. LGC fondles Joey Essex who looks so nervous he’s off the Richter Scale. And then Le Gateau Chocolat sits on Joey’s lap. I join the crowd in laughter. There’s something magical going on, the voice, the costume, the makeup and the Joey Essex-fondling is almost hypnotic.
Next up is the webcam moment. Beaming in from Essex we have Jack. Jack is slightly out-of-focus on the screen and is suffering from a three-second delay. Maybe that’s because he’s from Essex. Not wishing to be stereotypical or anything. At Scott’s prompting Jack announces the names of past X-Factor contestants, who didn’t win, in the style of Peter Dixon (aka Voiceover Man). I question the value of this as entertainment, but I’ll roll with it as background material while I fill in my tax return.
The next act is The Boy With Tape On His Face. Carrying a black bin-bag, looking like a third-year art student, and with a strip of packing-tape across his mouth, The Boy gets a member of the public on-stage to help. Balloons and a staple gun follow. That’s balloons, not baboons. And then we’re in to a ‘Funfight at the OK Corral’ shootout. I’ve never seen two people try to pop each other’s balloons with staple guns before. It had promise but didn’t quite work, they needed something with more power. Maybe The Boy should try rivet guns?
Camille O’Sullivan, a barefoot LBD-wearing singer, wanders on to the stage, takes a sip from a glass and with no preparation launches herself into a breathtaking, unaccompanied version of Jacques Brel’s witty, toe-tapping musical tale of alcoholism, prostitution, drunkenness and the utter futility of life, ‘Port of Amsterdam’.
Can I just go a bit muso here for a minute? Despite the initial dirge-like qualities, I love the song Port of Amsterdam. Brel’s lyrics were an innovation for the time; he successfully captured images of an emotional quality that no song, up until Amsterdam was published in 1964, had achieved. And few have come close to achieving since then. To accurately frame the grimy undertow of the nightlife of a Dutch seaport in a few verses is, frankly, genius. Jacques Brel was a musician, singer, songwriter, film-director and actor of serious worth. When people think of famous Belgians, Jacques Brel’s name seldom makes it on to anyone’s lips, yet this person gave more to the world than most of us ever will. There are many covers of Brel’s Port of Amsterdam out there (including versions by Scott Walker, David Bowie, The Dresden Dolls and Bellowhead) but – and this may surprise you – I encourage you to listen to the late John Denver’s live version. The clean-cut Country-singer’s gently-building production adds extra weight to Brel’s story. I’ll post a link to it just here…
Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh…
Comedian Josh Widdicombe, who looks as though he’s about 4’9″, takes the stage and kicks off by telling us that he’s newly single. I sense a theme developing here, people. Can it really be written in to the job description that, to perform in Radio 1s Fun and Filth Cabaret, one has to have been just dumped? It can’t have been easy for a comedian to follow an emotionally sobering performance like Camille’s and Josh, to his credit, gives it a fair go. I’d like to see more of him.
After Josh, Scott Mills leads the audience in a chant of ‘Cup-cake tits’ which is more than bizarre.
Frisky and Mannish return and I breathe a sigh of relief. I love Frisky’s wig. And Mannish’s hat. And Frisky. They introduce us to the musical genre of Grime via a rendition of ‘Top of the World’ off of The Carpenters. Oh yes indeed. The Carpenters work is taken in to the world of N-Dubz with a bit of a Yunioshi-esque urban rap. Frankly, my dear Scarlett, F&M’s spell on-stage doesn’t last long enough.
The Radio 1 theme of multi-tasking DJs continues, with Edith Bowman recreating an audition she performed for a Scottish talent-show; Venus, in the style of Stock, Aitken and Waterman-produced Bananarama. Wearing a Goldilocks wig and a blue satin dress, Edith has a passably-good karaoke-style stab at the much-recorded Shocking Blue musical icon from 1969.
The Fun and Filth Cabaret stops being both fun and filthy when the desperately unfunny Angelos slimes his way on-stage, to interview Joey Essex. I cringe. You cringe. We all cringe. I go for a dump.
Thankfully Angelos terminates the interview by walking off-stage and it’s safe to come out of the toilet.
The Ladyboys of Bangkok wind the whole evening up by doing their, by now, customary Vegas Showgirl-style wiggle and smile. Joey Essex says ‘Ah, the Chinese people’ as they line up. I laugh out loud.
And we’re done.
Frisky and Mannish: 7/10
Russell Kane: 7/10
Le Gateaux Chocolat: 7/10
The Boy With Tape On His Face: 5/10
Camille O’Sullivan: 7/10
Josh Widdicombe: 6/10
Edith Bowman: 6/10