EFR - Reviews of Circumcision

Circumcision

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Sebastian Ng

at 09:35 on 15th Aug 2016

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Dave Chawner has a personal story to disclose. Given that you clicked the title to get to this review, you can guess what it is about – just don’t expect Chawner to spend 45 minutes talking about losing his, erm, skin.

Chawner’s stand-up style is loose and informal, flitting from one joke to another without any concern about staying on topic (though to be fair, most of them are at least somewhat related to sex and sexuality). In fact, after prefacing the show with a few remarks about circumcision itself, it veers off and does not return to it till the last third of his set.

His stand-up style can come across as a tad messy; a few times, I get the impression that he is beginning what appears to be the set up to the next joke, but it then changes direction to something else two lines later, the thought abandoned. It is either entertainingly conversational, or it’s another way of saying that the delivery is not quite polished. Or perhaps it’s just a matter of having to warm up to the comedian; the rate and raucousness of laughter from the crowd does increase over the course of the show.

Chawner himself is personable, appealing for empathy from the crowd as he discusses his past relationships with women, or the experience of his circumcision. Many of his funniest lines are delivered in parenthetical quips, and he knows how to ride the audience’s laughter before moving on to the next line. He also enjoys setting the audience up for a sex-related joke, only to lob in a surprising wordplay punchline. Chawner also adopts a more serious tone, which is unexpected – though in a good way – and on occasion can even be informative, such as the discussion about the etymology of female private parts, his explanation on why actors are needed in training medics, or his hilariously apt descriptions of 'catheterisation' and 'phimosis’.

A sincere and affable comedian, come to Chawner's show for some decent laughter, and who knows, you might even learn something new. Just don’t ever use those feminist pickup lines he suggests.

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Grace Calvert

at 11:31 on 15th Aug 2016

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Stand-up comedy is unquestionably a very masculine world. You only have to look at the proportion of women to men on comedy panel shows to know it. It therefore seems a no brainer that an hour of stand-up on the modern conception of masculinity will be interesting. Dave Chawner’s ‘Circumcision’ is not only that, it manages to be hilarious at the same time.

Chawner is an easy, charming presence on stage. If a joke misses he doesn’t seem too put off by it, you don’t get the uncomfortable sensation that you do from other comics that a small piece of their soul has died with that gag. However, he does seem to get better with audience laughter, his comic timing improving as the show progresses. He appears thrilled when an audience member corrects his medical language: it’s the most factual heckle he’s ever had. His ease on stage is crucial to the success of the show, as it delves into topics that would make many men squirm.

‘Circumcision’ isn’t a pretentious, metaphorical title. The show centres on Chawner having to be circumcised earlier in the year. He tells us that previous titles for the show include ‘In the Hood’ and ‘Less of a Prick’. He’s clearly not embarrassed and it provides an original basis for his show. Normally when male stand-ups talk about sex, or worse, their girlfriends or wives, there’s a fair amount of crude jokes and sexism. It can make you feel uncomfortable as a female audience member. It’s not that you’re always offended, and I’ve definitely laughed at sexist jokes in my time, because we all understand that comedy has slightly different rules. But there is a sense of being sidelined in an audience. These jokes aren’t really for you.

You can understand, therefore, why I’m weary when Chawner stops the show to give a disclaimer before moving on to material about his ex-girlfriend. He doesn’t want to be rude about her. I’m waiting for the oh-so-ironic but not-so-original “But she’s a f**king cow”. However it doesn’t come, and instead we simply get more hilarious insights into sex and dating in the modern world.

It’s a professional, and original hour of comedy, and it’s totally free. Though as Chawner points out, he’d be grateful for a tip.

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