There must be something about being in a tent with a small group of people late at night that brings about the desire to tell lurid stories and encourage others to share revelations and confessions. Like those school camps of your youth where you would lie in your sleeping bag and dare your companions to cough up their darkest secrets, or to regale you with the most tantalisingly vivid tales of the taboo that they could summon, Fringe show, Evan Desmarais: Pizza And Ice Cream provides a similar experience – equally as titillating as it is uncomfortably and deliciously graphic.
Desmarais’ latest comedy show is certainly late-night fare – it’s full of visceral and scatological commentary of this Canadian’s rocky ride through a long period of unrequited desire. It is as graphic in its sexual detail, as it is in the use of deliberately chosen sensory imagery to describe other embarrassing episodes in his life, such as the occasional public onset of diarrhoea brought about by the incompatibility between the show’s two titular foodstuffs and the comedian’s recently discovered lactose intolerance.
Delivering this meandering tale, which blends recounted lust and drug influenced depravity with tales of kundalini yoga-style gong baths, to only a dozen late-night Fringe diehards meant that Desmarais had the mischievous opportunity to engage individually with each member of the audience.
There was no escape as he challenged us all, in turn, not to react to his most confrontational material, locking into long periods of mischievous unblinking eye-contact, and commentating on each of our reactive physical twitches and uncomfortable seat shuffling as he did so. It was clever, discombobulating stuff.
The show, beneath all of its mastubatory cock-shock humour, actually delivers a fascinating study of resilience in the face of constant disappointment. Desmarais relates his pursuit of his one true love across time and geographical distance.
He announces early in his monologue that he will not be a prisoner to stigma, and that meant that all of the intimate details of his quest – his history of sexual experimentation, his dalliances with mind-altering substances, and all of the pertinent experiences where his various bodily fluids caused him periods of self-assessment and personal growth, were fair game for his comedy.
This adherence to unfettered honesty made for some brief moments of audience discomfort, but, overall, it is actually a heart-warming tale of human yearning and our ever-changing sense of our own life’s priorities.
The revelation, after the show had concluded, that the ‘drunk girl’, who had spent the entire gig laughing self-consciously in the back row, was actually Lechelle, the woman who had inspired his whole routine and who had flown in from Perth to reunite with Desmarais, created a wonderful life-affirming ending to the night’s proceedings.
As Desmarais sincerely thanked each and every audience member personally at the exit after the show, you could sense that this show had been one of those rare experience where life and art meld before your very eyes.
By: Ken Grady
Rating: 4 stars
Evan Desmarais – Pizza & Ice Cream is being performed at The Squealer at Gluttony in Rymill Park, from Tuesday 10 March to Sunday 15 March.
All performances start at 10:00pm
Tickets are available here: Evan Desmarais