For regular Fringegoers who aim to tick all the most talked-about and cultest shows off your list, I’m going to make a prediction: you’ve seen Spank! before. I’m right, right? Well, whether you’re a Spank! virgin or if it’s an annual pilgrimage for you, I have one word of advice as it enters its twentieth and final year - avoid.
If you want to relive supposed past glories, preserve the memory and take a punt elsewhere
Year after year, word has reached my ears of this wild debauchery-filled night of outrageous comedy and guaranteed nudity, and after eight years, I have finally Spanked. To say it did not live up to its reputation would be an understatement.
The hosts Alexis Dubus and Sikisa are clearly able performers but did little to generate an atmosphere in the packed out room, or give the show any kind of unique feel you couldn’t find in any old generic mixed bill comedy night. The lineup consisted of a variety of forms of comedy – mostly stand-up, with a dose of sketch and musical comedy thrown in.
On the first Saturday of the Fringe, you’d expect a cult hit with a reputation for being a raucous affair to pull in some star talent. There were seven acts and the first five would each have warranted one or two stars (Stokes and Summers, Alex Kealy, Caitlin Cook, Sharlin Jahan and Erika Euler). The penultimate act was mostly-one-liner comic Ryan Cullen, whose show is the only one any reasonably discerning comedy fan might want to see after a 10-minute taster. The headliner was an off-form – but still decent – John Hastings, incapable of bombing but not able to rescue a failing night.
Whoever is in charge of booking Spank! either has an agenda that supersedes prioritising the audience’s optimal enjoyment, or simply knows very little about comedy. The ‘legendary’ 60-second opportunity for an audience member (today, three members) to share their members while promoting their show is the only thing separating Spank! from your bog-standard open mic night.
If you’ve seen Spank! before and want to relive supposed past glories, preserve the memory and take a punt elsewhere. If you’ve not, and you want to try it while you can, same advice. Of course, as with all rotating lineups, there’s a chance I just got unlucky and a night of headlining legends awaits you. But I doubt it.