The word “fabulous” is defined as being extraordinary and wonderful, and having no basis in reality. However, it’s a genuine stretch to describe Australian Wayne Carter as mythical – even if he’s a burly guy in a dress, ready to lip-sync and do some burlesque – given he’s performing in the basement of one of Edinburgh’s less notable bars.
The routine lacks impact, relying too much on predictable sexual innuendo
There’s a ramshackle air to proceedings, not least because – being a lone performer on PBH’s Free Fringe – Carter’s also his own sound mixer and techie. Lip-synching convincingly to an eclectic jumble of tracks – from Tom Jones’ She’s A Lady to Celine Dion’s All By Myself – is far harder than it looks, but as an opening number the routine lacks impact, relying too much on predictable sexual innuendo. “It’s a free show – you get what you pay for,” Carter adds soon afterwards: it gets a laugh, but you do wonder if such honesty on his part is actually a good idea in the longer term. Especially when Carter goes into fairly specific spiel about exactly how much it’s costing him to be part of Edinburgh’s 'free' Fringe – with the implication being that everyone should be digging really deep into the pockets as they leave the room.
In an attempt to keep things fluid, Carter regularly takes a folded strip of paper from a bucket, on which is written a “never have I ever…” action or event which triggers some reminiscence from him or a story or two from the more willing members of his audience. His decision to mix these questions up from one show to the next is allegedly to help maintain his own interest, but when a few fairly low key stories come one after the other it does rather feels like Carter is losing control of his own show – which is never really a good sign. Even worse, though, is when he opts to invite on stage an audience member to lip-synch to Gloria Gainer’s I Will Survive – that universal gay anthem – and realises too late that, at least on the night of this review, the young guy is another Fringe performer who’s all too capable of totally upstaging him.
Occasionally slightly bizarre, but for the most part fair-to-middling, Wayne Carter isn’t likely to set the comedy world alight. Not yet, anyway. As for being a lesson in how to be fabulous, it’s an absolute failure.