Available to download now from www.whataboutdick.com
If a comedy has the word “Dick” in the title, then I think it’s safe to presume that much of the humour is going to be derived from the fact that “dick” is a hilarious slang term for “penis”.
Take, for example, Jim Davidson, whose sense of humour, like his understanding of political correctness, has remained ever schoolboy-sized. Jim’s near obsessive devotion to the idea that “Dick” is not only a name but also another word for cock has lead him into the bizarre field of adult pantomime, where the jokes are blue and seemingly plagiarised from immature scribblings in GCSE biology textbooks.
Now, with the release of his new downloadable comedy play What About Dick?, Eric Idle has apparently developed a similar fondness for the euphemism. Much like Davidson’s bawdy productions, the play, which was filmed earlier this year at the Orpheum Theatre in LA, is packed full of dodgy innuendo and excessive references to—er, well, dicks. However, Idle’s material is elevated somewhat by an all-star British cast comprised of Russell Brand, Billy Connolly, Eddy Izzard, Tracey Ullman and Tim Curry.
Described by Idle himself as being “like Downtown Abbey only funnier”, What About Dick? tells the tale of the rise of a sex toy and the decline of the British Empire as seen through the eyes of a piano (Idle). A dapper-looking Brand plays the title character, Dick, an Oxford student of philosophy and gynaecology; he has two cousins, played by Fraiser’s Jane Leeves and Two And A Half Men’s Sophie Winkleman, and then there’s their frequently sloshed Aunt Maggie (Ullman), all of which live together in Kensington in a “large, rambling, Edwardian novel”.
You can’t fault Brand’s irrepressible enthusiasm, although next to veterans like Tim Curry and Tracey Ullman, he seems out of his depth as a stage actor. Then again, so does Billy Connolly, who spends much of the play struggling not to corpse, particularly at the unashamedly silly musical numbers. Yet rather than damaging the production, the fact that some of these actors appear to be on the verge of hysterics actually adds to the appeal of the play.
Like its cheeky title, What About Dick? is obviously neither very big nor clever—although it is, at times, very funny in a completely balmy kind of a way. You get the impression that the entire cast are pulling out all the stops to entertain not only the audience, but also their co-stars.
Naturally, the bar for maturity is set extremely low from the very beginning, but with Tim Curry and Eddy Izzard completely indulging themselves in the ridiculousness of it all, What About Dick? is surprisingly good fun.