My Dad Wrote A Porno LIVE! Review

Back in 2015, Jamie Morton, along with his friends James Cooper and Radio 1 presenter Alice Levine, launched a podcast based on Jamie’s mortifying discovery that his dad, inspired no doubt by the tumescent success of “50 Shades Of Grey”, had decided to write his own erotic masterpiece, “Belinda Blinked”. Each episode features a single chapter of the novel, nay Magnus opus, read aloud by Jamie and critiqued, commented on and, frequently incredulously shrieked with laughter at by Alice and Jamie. You see, Jamie’s Dad – writing under the pseudonym Rocky Flintstone – is a terrible writer, both technically and artistically (or, maybe, a transcendentally great one; the James Joyce of smut). Yet somehow this horrifically misjudged and gratuitously graphic novel manages to be disgustingly filthy yet somehow endearingly sweet, helped in large measure (of wine and spirits) by the trio as they deconstruct, analyse and, occasionally, educate the listeners and sometimes each other (*cough* Jamie *cough*) about the basic facts of female anatomy and sexual logistics.

Three series later (with a fourth on the way in August of this year), over 100 million global downloads, a spin-off book and legions of celebrity fans including Elijah Wood, Michael Sheen and Rachel Bloom, it’s safe to say Rocky has grabbed the cervix of success with both hands. Little wonder, then, that the podcast has stepped out from behind the kitchen table microphone and embarked on a globetrotting world tour worthy of Belinda Blenkinsop herself.

If you haven’t listened to the podcast (and you should), “Belinda Blinked” is atrocious. The writing is nonsensical, even without taking the metaphors, grammar and punctuation into account. Belinda’s story is one where you can never be quite sure just which ‘colon’ is being referred to, semi or otherwise and much of the enjoyment of the podcast comes from the sheer jaw-dropping shock value of each turn of phrase, delivered with impeccably knowing comic timing by Jamie. There’s a deceptively raw, informal, spontaneous feeling to the podcast and I was curious to see how this would translate over to a live show.

I needn’t have worried. Seated in the front row of the Portsmouth Guildhall, Mrs Craggus and I had a splendid, almost intimate, view of the minimalist set: three comfy chairs, a low coffee table and a generous supply of wine and canned gin and tonics against a backdrop of the show’s faux leather-look logo. The easy camaraderie of the three and their boundless warmth infusing that sense of close friendship forged through the earbuds of thousands of podcast listens meant the evening’s fun took place in a cosy and relaxed atmosphere. We were all pals here, sharing a few drinks and a good laugh about the latest nonsense Rocky had written, even if there were more than a thousand of us on one side of the table.

The communal belly laughs, groans, gasps of shock and rueful shaking of heads dispelled any notion that a podcast somehow wouldn’t fill the hall it did so magnificently, easily embracing a slightly more interactive approach as specific characters, events and, yes, even phrases prompted enthusiastic audience responses.

Morton, Cooper and Levine make what they do look effortless, even though its anything but. The biggest challenge, I imagine, is keeping things light, spontaneous and fresh night after night delivering the same chapter. Although true of all live shows, it must present a particular challenge to this kind of show where genuine, impulsive reactions and an insatiable dread to see what comes next are a huge part of the appeal yet if it does so, there was barely a hint of it. All three are completely at ease on the stage and make every interjection, sly comment and trenchant observation feel natural, honest and ad-libbed no matter how meticulously crafted they might be.

Inventively, insanely filthy, riotously hilarious and, in our shared amused disbelief, somehow smuttily celebratory, “My Dad Wrote A Porno LIVE” is an evening’s entertainment like no other. I mean, when was the last time you were in a theatre full of people joining in a full-throated shout of “Cervix!”? Perhaps Rocky’s real genius is that he breaks down (often by smashing through them with a wrecking ball made of TNT) the very British reluctance to discuss sex, sexuality and good business practices. Suffice to say, you’ll be discussing all three on the way home in one of the weirdest and potentially most enlightening conversations you’ll ever have.

“My Dad Wrote a Porno LIVE” is on tour until September 3rd and you can check out the tour dates and ticket availability at www.mydadwroteaporno.com. Catch Belinda while you can and, even if you can’t make it to the live shows, make sure you subscribe to the podcast. Your ears will thank you, even if your naughty bits may never, ever forgive you.

8/10 

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