Spank! is a lairy long-running comedy night, born in Edinburgh in 2003 and now a regular fixture at the Southbank’s Udderbelly. It’s extremely well-curated with the five acts managing to keep a largely smashed audience happy for most of the two hour long duration.
The strongest showing came from all-male sketch troupe Late Night Gimp Fight who had the sense to keep things moving fast, realising perhaps that a tanked-up bank holiday crowd had all the concentration span of Stuart Hall in Hamley’s. We use that line to illustrate the nature of most of the material – paedophile, rape and blow job jokes with a song about bestiality. Not for the easily offended, in other words. Late Night Gimp Fight are slick, charming and funny though you can easily imagine they’ll shed the shock tactics as soon as they get a series on Radio 4.
The playfully smutty tone was kept up by Canadian Katherine Ryan who mixed up her female-friendly blow job gags with a bit of broad celebrity satire – grinding members of the front row while doing Beyonce’s sex face seemed to go down well. Christian Reilly had fun with his guitar introducing ‘musical racism’ into the mix. This was pretty well judged to fall on the right side of tasteful though his song about a man with learning difficulties came across as cheap.
The two acts that dared to take things slower risked losing the audience, especially faux Frenchman Marcel Lucont. This is a great character – a believably rendered Parisian ponce – but more gags and less shrugs might have got him through the late slot with more ease. Benny Boot was also shaky in parts, but he did have the best joke of the evening – a riff on Scooby Doo that deserves to be extended.
Spank! is a lot more fun than the lame name (and poster) might suggest and the talented comedians deserve credit for surviving the lazy and dated compering of James Wren and Leon Fleury. The news that these two are retiring is welcome.
By Stu B
There are two more Spank! nights in London to come on 7 June and 5 July at the Udderbelly, tickets £15.50. Both start at 10.45pm so make sure you have your transport home sorted, especially if you plan on getting hammered. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary press ticket.