Comedy Review: My Dad Wrote A Porno, Empire Theatre, Liverpool

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Image Source: Metro

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Show
Genre: Comedy
Date: May 31 2018
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Sometimes, when somebody is down on their luck and trying to conjure up a change in their life or simply looking to demonstrate their range of talents, they turn to writing. It may be a book, it may be a script, it may be a series of poems. Well, for the man whose pen name would become Rocky Flintstone, he decided that he should begin writing a novel. An erotic novel. In other words, a porno. One day, he showed some samples of his work to his son (yes, his son), Jamie Morton. His reaction was a mix of horror and howls of laughter, for not only was the situation so awkward (how many kids can honestly say that their father would show them extracts from an erotic novel that they were working on?), but the writing in general was something to behold for all the wrong, hilarious reasons. Some would keep this as a secret, but Jamie chose to share the chapters that he had read with his friends, in particular James Cooper and Alice Levine.

And from there, the podcast My Dad Wrote A Porno was born, which as of this writing has received over 100 million downloads. Now, the podcast has been taken to the theatre stage on tour, with Jamie, James and Alice all on hand to read extracts from what Morton describes as a lost chapter from his father’s literary works, or to quote Morton, a chapter that even his father found too s–t to actually be used.

For those unfamiliar, the leading character in the stories is Belinda Blumenthal, who works at an organisation called Steeles Pots and Pans and who is only too eager to get her kit off at the drop of a hat. “Belinda Blinked” is a term used very frequently amongst the various chapters that have been read out on the podcast, and is usually a sign that she is in the mood to, erm, have some fun. Other recurring characters pop up here and there, some having major roles, others making fleeting appearances, and a couple even receiving unplanned name changes as the stories roll on.

What really makes the whole thing ridiculous isn’t necessarily the promise of sexual activity itself (the author certainly doesn’t short-change his following in this area), but the manner in which Rocky Flintstone tackles the goings-on of the characters, such as Belinda going from greeting somebody in the room to suddenly performing an act that would have been considered risqué for the old Men & Motors channel, the fact that Rocky is not discreet whatsoever when describing the situations, the unnecessary references to random items (such as the tiling on the walls), and the generally erratic writing and uses of grammar. It all makes for quite the package, and a hugely popular one at that.

For the stage version, the lost chapter sees Belinda arrange a team-building exercise for four of her male employees, headed up by a lady named Natasha Biles. The idea is to bring everybody closer together, and though the tactics are enough to shut down the majority of major UK organisations, the objective is certainly achieved! I won’t go into the details for obvious reasons (and besides, you’ve got to see the show to find out for yourself), but needless to say that the tone changes very dramatically at various points, going from professional to filthy in a matter of seconds, and in a manner that you can’t help but laugh, especially when trying to apply logic and realism to the crazy goings-on. Oh, and in the most positive manner of putting this, there are plenty of unnecessary layers to the chapter, none more so than the bizarre emphasis on a game which involves throwing dice, one that has no rules at all and no real purpose, yet somehow has major consequences for the central characters.

Jamie, James and Alice work very well together. It’s clear that far from this being a nervous endeavour with regards to performing in front of a large live audience, they are simply a group of friends having a laugh as they carefully dissect this, well, porno. Nothing is ever taken too seriously, with various drinking games when references to particular items are made. There is also some audience interaction by having attendees read out lines and even act out one of the scenes; in the case of the latter, while it doesn’t go too far for the volunteers, you would definitely have to be up for anything. There are visual aids, such as a PowerPoint presentation, and a tracklist of songs which are romantic – actually, they’re more than just romantic – add to the mood of the production. The banter is often hilarious between those on stage, but it’s undoubtedly the story itself that leaves the biggest lasting impression. Oh, and the amount of innuendos and very rude references that at times can blow one’s mind!

If you haven’t already realised, this is an adults-only show. Far from skirting the issue of a porno, this delves right in (probably not the best terminology here) and creates a situation that is easy to envisage in the mind, but is also wild to picture in considering how a seemingly-regular office team exercise suddenly becomes a scandalous incident that somehow has everybody feeling better about themselves when all is said and done. So, definitely don’t bring the parents, and it may make for an awkward first date (as Alice herself points out). But if you’re looking for a night of laugh after laugh amidst a seductive scenario where nothing is off limits and things escalate to a level that you could not have imagined when you step into the theatre, then this is a really enjoyable show where you can sit back and revel in the ridiculousness of it all. It’s a particularly good experience for a group of same-sex friends, where the subject matter is perhaps a little easier to digest, as opposed to being with your boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s well-paced, allowing you to digest every single crazy moment, and with a running time of around two hours, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Summing it up, then, assuming that you are ready to handle everything that is detailed (and assuming that you’re 18 or over, obviously), the live version of My Dad Wrote A Porno is naughty, fun and surreal, and is a sign of just how much the podcast has taken off, and how at the end of the day, sex will always sell. Even if it’s under a bizarre set of circumstances, triggered simply by Belinda blinking.

Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good