BBC Radio 1’s Fun and Filth Cabaret is the perfect late-night entertainment show: the cream of the Fringe’s weird and wonderful crop is given short slots to impress a sizeable crowd. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s most definitely filthy.
One of the things that makes the variety show format work so well is the presenting by friendly faces Scott Mills and Nick Grimshaw alongside their guest host. For this, the second of four shows, Example joined the Radio 1 DJs, talking about fun stuff like how much it costs to hire a wolf and later doing impressions of Puss in Boots and Bane. The presenters sit on stage during all of the performances, grounding the show and making it accessible for both TV and radio audiences. However, the live experience is a different beast altogether. This is uncensored, unpolished filth, though it’s never too much; on the filth-ometer it sits on the right side of acceptable, probably somewhere between vajazzle and danger-wank.
First up was the colourful Vocal Orchestra, who warmed up the crowd with their punchy a cappella act replicating classic dance music with only their voices. They also had a blistering beatbox battle and some quality choreography. The deadpan Piff the Magic Dragon (a magician in a dragon suit) added bathetic charm to the proceedings with his card tricks, alongside cute chihuahua helper Mr Piffles.
Four Screws Loose showed us how not to be a boy band with a long medley, dressed up in matching checked shirts and poking fun at everything from One Direction to The Backstreet Boys. Geordie comedian Chris Ramsay heckled his audience playfully and complained about being called laddish in a review. He then riffed on topics like hot dogs in porn, prompting loud and squeamish groan-laughs in what can probably be classed as the filthiest slot of the night.
Next was an interlude from the internet. This show is ‘very modern’ as Grimshaw pointed out jokily, so there was a live webcam to Nara and Peter’s genre-defying act in Croydon. It was gloriously random: Nara sang a dramatic song about her mother, ‘burnt at the stake for being a witch’ while being accompanied by a fire-breathing display from her long-haired, bare-chested companion. After a couple of minutes, the sound was switched off and we returned to slightly more traditional forms of alternative entertainment.
EastEnd Cabaret were riotously funny and full of character. Bernadette Byrne was a cabaret star while her side-kick was a self-styled hermaphrodite called Victor Victoria. They sang a song cheerily encouraging the audience to masturbate in public: the aforementioned danger-wank. Frisky and Mannish, a musical comedy duo, were the final act and were unable to finish their last song in time, but they still shone with their brilliant reimaginings of ‘Somebody I Used To Know’ and ‘Eternal Flame’.
By the end of the show the audience had enjoyed experiencing many alternative shows that they wouldn’t otherwise have sought out, making this not only a unique evening of true variety but also an excellent platform for Fringe performers. Well done BBC.