A common adage given to budding creative writers is “Write what you know” to allow for the honesty and candour that makes your output more accessible. It is certainly in the name of honesty and candour that Chris Dangerfield, self-proclaimed former heroin addict and current sex tourist and his less-stand-up-more-a-collection-of-earnest-and-repugnant anecdotes takes to the Hive stage.
It’s easy to hate parts of this show. Sections where Dangerfield acted out forcing a violent act of fellatio from a Thai ladyboy, his constant streams of foul language and casual misogyny and his cheerful admittances that he had shot people, dealt drugs and regularly sees prostitutes were all difficult to stomach. His topics were as foul as a flyer promising “drugs”, “guns”, “anal issues” and human faeces implied. All were explained in his South-London “geezer” delivery with regular asides to the audience - including constant demands for the exact time and knowing questions about whether he was alone in his fulfilment of these acts, which he of course always was. At times the content and his casual explanation of it were genuinely nauseated.
But at other points, as is the case with petroleum engineers or Tory cabinet members, one couldn’t help but admire the easy efficiency with which he worked. The easy-going patter of his set is practiced from a life spent living it. There were particles of charm and even atoms of wit that studded the set: his confessions of falling in love with a transexual and crying on a travellator were genuinely amusing and heartfelt. It just seemed a shame that these moments of delicacy were drowned in a flood of faeces references.
However, they say “Write what you know” and therefore it would seem Dangerfield’s hands are tied. With a background this lurid he was never going to write jolly observations on the weather. Pleas from skittish liberals that “If only he weren’t quite so rude” entirely miss the point: Sex Tourist is both far less and much more than a comedy stand-up set: it’s just a wander through a vulgar and tragi-comical period in a man’s life and for that impressive sincerity it is not entirely without merit. Just mostly.