Russell Arathoon: The Curious Incidents of the Gay in the Night ★★★★

Russell Arathoon brings 60 minutes of sass and hilarity to the Fringe with a show that fearlessly explores life as a gay man.

The dark, somewhat dank, surroundings of the subterranean venue are suddenly illuminated by a suave figure taking to the stage.  “Are there any gays in?” Russell Arathoon immediately enquires of his audience.  “There must be with all those moustaches and tight white t-shirts. It’s like a load of extras in a Freddy Mercury video.”  And, at once, the theme is set for 60 minutes of camp comedy and comedic campery.

That’s not to say that Arathoon’s show is aimed exclusively at an LGBTQ+ audience. Although whilst calling your gig The Curious Incidents of the Gay in the Night Time certainly alludes to that, he manages to engage all of the assembled punters with a roguish charm. A significant proportion of his material does draw upon both his lived experiences of being a gay man and its conventions, to frequently hilarious effect.

Despite having recently turned 40, making him “ancient in gay years”, Arathoon boasts of how adept he is at social media. How else would one think of saving paper and the planet by digitally flyering for one’s show via a well-known gay dating app? He also elaborates on how acquaintances are turning to digital platforms to combat the rising cost of living, resulting in a rapturous punchline. The travails of coping with the pandemic are also brought into focus, cleverly covering everything from the mundane (online grocery substitutions), to the somewhat more unusual (the difficulties of availing oneself of recreational drugs and orgies during lockdowns).

Actively encouraged to participate, the audience clearly enjoyed their 60 minutes in Arathoon’s company.  His confident, sassy performance certainly indicates he won’t be returning to his previous career as a flight attendant anytime soon.  “Any flight crew in?” he enquires.  “Come on there must be, it’s the gay equivalent of straights being called up for the army!” he quips.

A comic stalwart in the making, who is unlikely to be gigging in converted cellars for much longer, with just a bit more polish he is a contender to join the upper echelons of the comedy circuit. And as an unflinching advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and its humour, he will be more than welcome there.

From flight attendant to top flight comedy, Russell Arathoon’s career is clear to take off – ★ (4 stars) from The Recs

Russell Arathoon tickets

Russell Arathoon: The Curious Incidents of the Gay in the Night-Time

plays at Just the Tonic at The Caves Just Out of the Box until 28 Aug

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