It’s fair to say I caught Pity Laughs: A Tale of Two Gays on a bad night, but if that’s their worst, then they’re still pretty good. Mark Bittlestone and Will Dalrymple’s two-man show is all about being gay in the twenty-first century, bar a brief blip through all of human history. The cast mix stand up with narrative comedy to create a slightly strange but never boring show.
As you enter you’re handed a ‘pre-show questionnaire,’ which is incredibly difficult to read in the dark of the theatre. It estimates how likely you are to enjoy the next hour, and by how much (two of the predictions involve Tim Farron). Pity Laughs is supposed to be a bit of a tech-heavy show, and by that I mean it relies on a PowerPoint presentation. Unfortunately, on the night in question the tech side of things went into meltdown. However as Bittlestone, Dalrymple and the group’s third member, Will Penswick, tried to fan the flames on the tech desk, they improvised brilliantly and it only made the show even funnier.
It’s a brutal and graphic comedy with stories that you aren’t really sure whether or not they are true, or if you even want to know. From Bittlestone’s dark humour about what it means to be gay and an orphan, to Dalrymple’s laugh-out-loud erotica, Pity Laughs is a ride. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted, but if you’re partial to a few jizz jokes and a bit of self-deprecation then it’s the show for you. There are a couple of times where lines may be crossed as the audience squirm uncomfortably at one or two of Dalrymple’s punch lines – but, just as with the tech glitches, they use the audiences’ hesitation as ammunition to make another joke.
There is a little bit of audience participation, though not too much, and they seem to specifically select any straight men in the audience. A word of advice: the more uncomfortable you look and the louder you cringe, the more likely you are to be targeted – seems fair to me! The show is filled with references to gay icons like Boy George and Elton John, and the less obvious gay icons, like Ed Miliband and Harry Potter.
Pity Laughs does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s just the stories of two gay guys. While it both destroys and reinforces several stereotypes, it’s not trying to be representative of an entire community. Pity Laughs: A Tale of Two Gays is by no means perfect, and it’s certainly not politically correct, but one thing’s for sure: it’s a laugh.
Pity Laughs: A Tale of Two Gays is playing at The Bill Murray until November 22. For more information and tickets, click here.