04 November 2007

Topping and Butch

Topping and Butch
4 November 2007
The Famous Spiegeltent

Sadly, Melbourne only had a two night stand with Topping and Butch, but they will be defiling Adelaide for a couple of weeks at the Feast Festival. I laughed ‘til I cried and left feeling so much better than when I went in. This is bloody good stuff. No wonder they sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Michael Topping and Andrew Simmons are Topping and Butch. Simmons has a singing voice as delectable and smooth as his body. Topping is a fat old queen.

This comic duo doesn’t need a straight man. Barely clad in red leather, they carry on the British tradition of high camp and combine it with immediate satire, sharp observation, a touch of innuendo and a bucket load of good old fashioned smut. Alright, there’s a lot of innuendo and double entendre. Come to think of it, there’s a lot of single entendre - and let’s hear it for the return of the beaver joke.

But “clip your nails” and frottage jokes are not going to sustain a show. Their material is so up to date - if you missed today’s news you might not understand it. They only arrived in Melbourne yesterday and have already mastered an Elsternwick Jewish joke. Kerry Ann gets a look in, as do Ben Cousins and Cameron. Their Johnny and Kevin material is as observant as any local comedian and - please - a bottle of champagne for pulling off a Julia Gillard wanking joke.

For the less politically interested, they play with pop hits and, what gay cabaret is complete without, musical theatre satire. Pull down the barricades to hear Les Vegetables - about Aubergine the fat and Courgette the slim - and Chess is so much better with "I Know Him Too Well" – where Topping plays a predatory old queen and Butch takes the part of a young straight male. Straight men, if you want to see how straight women really see you - watch a gay man satirising you.

Yes, us girls love Topping and Butch and they love us right back. They embrace the well known fact that the natural accompaniment to a straight woman is a gay man. "Fag Hag" (think "Down Town") may well be my favourite song of the year.

Their material is very good, but they are not master satirists. The strength of this show is the genuine lovability of the characters. They make their audience feel totally comfortable. Even the self confessed Liberal voters were made to feel welcome as the lesbians, straight men, gay men and the one bi-sexual asylum seeker.

Topping and Butch are inoffensive in their outrageousness, but they never tone down their material to create comfort. They are always embracing diversity and ensure that their outrageousness is always a celebration.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com and appeared on GayDestination.net.au

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