The title and poster of this show - a photo of Rob Rouse’s face literally looking through the legs of a naked bottom - are somewhat misleading about the nature of this show. Though Rouse is not a clean or prude act by any means, he is intelligent as well as compassionate. The show is accessible to a wide audience without being broad, and is also incredibly funny.
Rouse is never preachy - never overbearing with any social message - and most important of all, he is very, very funny.
The earlier parts of the show are somewhat weaker than what comes later. Though Rouse makes some fine jokes about the difficulties of raising very young children, his earlier material feels familiar and less original than it could be. He talks, for example, about how irritating it is to be woken up at five in the morning by children who feel a puzzling joy simply at being alive, and how he finds it difficult to cope with their relentless barrages of questions. But Louis C.K. has already done such an act, and with more comic deftness (in the shows Live at Carnegie Hall, and One Night Stand, for example).
But a third of the way into the show, Rouse’s act really takes off, and becomes something very remarkable. His reflections from his family life take on a new freshness, desperation, and conviction. He tells us that having a baby girl has made him see the world entirely differently - through her eyes - and has made him recognise the patriarchal and unjust state of the world. But he also admits that it can be difficult for him to relinquish certain perspectives and urges that he has become accustomed to as a man, and his attempt to reconcile his anger at social injustice with his own fallibility is bitter-sweet, humanising, and also very funny.
Also among the highlights are his stories about his son. Uninhibited by social conventions, the young boy’s sweet and naive perspectives invite us to reflect on the stunted ways men are forced to form social bonds with other men.
It is so refreshing and delightful to see a male comic who can do such a great act that heavily features feminist thought. Yes, perhaps some of his sentiments already exist in current social discourse, but many of these thoughts need to be spoken by a comedian, and Rob Rouse demonstrates that he is extremely capable of taking on this role. Once the show gets through the more familiar material in the first few minutes, it flourishes into something very spectacular for the remaining majority. Rouse is never preachy - never overbearing with any social message - and most important of all, he is very, very funny.