Comedians Telling Erotic Stories review – first snogs, orgies and a come-on from Boris

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Rachel Fairburn’s showcase aroused funny bones, if not G-spots, with Shappi Khorsandi, Lou Sanders and Will Duggan

Lusty goings-on among Tory top brass ... Rachel Fairburn.
Lusty goings-on among Tory top brass ... Rachel Fairburn. Photograph: Kayla Wren
Lusty goings-on among Tory top brass ... Rachel Fairburn. Photograph: Kayla Wren
Brian Logan

Last modified on Sun 14 Feb 2021 08.40 EST

If ever there was a time for comedians to diversify their skills, it’s as we enter a second year of closed theatres. Rachel Fairburn’s new format invites them to take the sideways step (or no step at all, depending on the comic) into storytelling. After a spooky stories night for Halloween, and a festive one at Christmas, for Valentine’s weekend Fairburn and friends zeroed in on the audience’s G-spot with Comedians Telling Erotic Stories. They missed – but if the sexual climate remained at room temperature, the gig left our funny bones, at least, in a state of mild arousal.

Shappi Khorsandi
Carnal coming of age ... Shappi Khorsandi Photograph: Lia Toby/Getty Images for Boots Staydry

For Fairburn, got up as a Playboy bunny, the event was about “getting comedians out of their comfort zone”. But only she and co-host Will Duggan (dressed as Cupid, with feathery wings and love-hearts on his nipples) rose to the challenge. Shappi Khorsandi opened by breezily announcing she’d not read Fairburn’s email and so hadn’t prepared a story: not the most auspicious intro. Instead, she recited a directory of her sexual conquests, and recalled her carnal coming-of-age in the un-liberated 90s, and an invitation she once received to a Melbourne orgy.

Which was diverting enough – but firmly in her standup comfort zone. The same goes for Lou Sanders, like Khorsandi no stranger to sexually forthright comedy. We got a slice of it here, as the ex-Taskmaster champ talked recent dates and retrieved the diary entry that recounted her first snog. What’s so winning about Sanders is that all this is enriched by a droll brand of solipsistic self-analysis that finds her “Googling whether you can get PTSD from your own personality”.

But in terms of sexy storytelling, only Fairburn and Duggan really deliver. The latter spins a saucy creation myth about an orgy between Cupid and God, ejaculating continents. The former unleashes an anti-fanfic confection detailing lusty goings-on among Tory top brass. Fairburn delivers the text with sadistic glee, knowing full well it’s more torturous (“Matt felt Boris’s spammy tongue enter his mouth…”) than titillating. Erotic, my foot – after hearing such a story, you might doubt that you’ll ever feel aroused again.

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