Marcel Lucont's Cabaret Fantastique

Marcel Lucont's Cabaret Fantastique featured not a single person in character, and was all the better for it. Lucont, the demur Frenchman spearheading the event, was so entrenched in his bizarre persona that it doesn't bear thinking about the confused man who lies beneath. He began, as all pretend Frenchmen do, with a deadpan philosophical back-and-forth set against a jazz backdrop, performed unremittingly by the supporting band. Early on, Lucont deployed some admirably droll crowd-work. A highlight: Lucont slammed an audience member for shrugging when the poor soul couldn't locate an answer to one of the his baffling questions. “Don't try to out-shrug me,” he urged. “That is a party… you will not be invited to.”

Wonderful, all just wonderful.

Flitting from topic to topic at a disarming speed, Lucont also threw down such venerable pastimes as bungee jumping, tennis court romance and democracy.

The latter two acts, Anna Man and La Gâteau Chocolat, were equally stirring. Anna Man, a pretend failed actress (but in reality a real failed comedian (jk)) who's been in all the movies, or at least "edited out of all of them", bounded on stage with terrifying enthusiasm, stealing big laughs with a salvo of surprisingly stupid jokes and moronic asides. “Look at those eyes!” She said of one audience member. “Such eyes! Just look at that woman's incredible, dead eyes!” Another: a heartfelt, yapping rendition—and subsequent transliteration—of a dog's mournful swan(dog?)song. Come to think of it, Anna Man was very, very good, especially when she told a story about being covered in shit. I loved it.

Finally, no less seductive, La Gâteau Chocolat, a bearded bloke in a dress your ailing mother would kill for, delivered such a powerful interpretation of Nothing Compares 2 U that I assumed Sinead O'Connor had just died. La Gateau's between-songs banter was a little low on laughs, but judging by the singing/joke-telling ratio of his act, he may well have not been a comedian anyway, so really, that's fine. In one poignant moment, he sang solo, beautifully, lit only with the faded blue glow of an iPhone filched off an audience member. He gave it back, too.

Towards the close, Lucont had the good grace to coerce unwilling audience members into exhibiting humiliating talents for our benefit. A woman who crammed her entire fist in her mouth and a man who emitted a strange, alien rattling noise from his larynx were both wonderful, welcome additions to the show. And the jazz band braved the indignity of supporting these freaks with a stalwart courage not seen since the ewoks.

Wonderful, all just wonderful.

Reviews by Ben Munster

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The Blurb

The multi-award-deserving Frenchman returns with a live band and some magnificent guests. Expect bawdy chansons, louche poetry and a soupçon of Gallic disdain. The cult hit from festivals all over the world. As seen on Comedy Central, Sky Atlantic's Set List and BBC1’s The John Bishop Show.