Puppetry of the Penis, or The Art of Genital Origami! as it is also referred to, was conceived by Simon Morley and David “Friendly” Friend and first performed at the 1998 Melbourne International Comedy Festival – it was declared ‘the best comedy show of the festival’ by The Age at the time. How apropos that I see the show for the first time, right here in Melbourne part of this year’s MICF.
At the infancy of their penis bending careers, Morley and Friend were initially booked for a five-week run at London's Whitehall Theatre, and eventually closed after an astonishing five-month run, due to the overwhelming response by audiences, including some A-listers like Hugh Grant, Bono and the Beckhams.
The puppeteers are now many – much like The Blue Man Group – touring throughout the UK, Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific, elating its audiences.
I caught Puppetry of the Penis at the Croxton Park Hotel in Thornbury. I just knew that the entertainment consisted primarily of two naked men on stage, twisting and contorting their private parts into shapes. My curiosity had been tickled after seeing the duo on Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show a couple years back, and the voyeur in me couldn’t let this show slide by. I had to see it with my own two eyes. For review purposes only... of course.
From the moment the audience made their way into the entertainment hall, scoped out the best seats, and identified the bar, a rumble composed of nervous giggles and inquisitive conversations about what was to be expected could be heard throughout. “Have you seen them before? I’ve heard they make a ‘hamburger’ out of it!” Which was then followed by an incredulous gasp of disbelief, and a demand of proof of the said hamburger.
Incredibly, or not so much, there were but a handful of men in attendance. Women, lots and lots of women composed the bulk of the attendees. The age spectrum was wide, from 19 to 80+. I sat back and nonchalantly took in the whole thing, trying to make heads or tails of the odd demographic of people there, and painted a prediction in my head of what was about to unfold on stage. Lets just say that, my pre-show preparation was of no help to me once the boys set foot into the spotlight.
Making their grand entrance onto the stage, clad only in velvet superhero-like capes, the fabulously peppy puppeteers introduced themselves, and faster than any of us anticipated, we were “introduced” to their willies, the true stars of the show. Suddenly, screams, gasps, and a resounding laughing cackle burst out, as if we had all been holding our breaths for the last hour, and we just had to release the pressure. Judging from our ages, a safe bet could be made that, we had all seen a penis before, but for some reason, we all reacted as if we were completely unfamiliar with the male anatomy.
Although the performers contort their penises on stage, and a camera focused on them allowing for a magnified, bigger than life view of their genitals, the wonderful thing about Puppetry of the Penis is that, it is in no way sexual, or vulgar. The strapping young men who execute seemingly impossible “genital origami” project a confident and quirky personality, almost endearing, that the thought of “this is hot” would not describe this show, or be fitting of it. Humour is ever present during the entire length of the performance, making for a light hearted experience, and thankfully, no fondling of the performers’ privates by the audience is encouraged or allowed.
If you’ve heard of Puppetry of the Penis, and are on the fence about going to it, think no more, and book your tickets right now for the show. What’s more... bring your mum and nan along too. To quote Jay Leno: “It’s a ‘family’ show.”
A List Entertainment presents
Puppetry of The Penis Live
Venues: various - see the website for details
Dates: 28 Mar – 20 April, 2014
Tickets: $39.90 – $44.90
Bookings: Ticketek 132 849