The English comic bursts into the Attic room of the Pleasance Courtyard announcing: ‘I’m London Hughes and I’m really funny.’ The hubris is tongue-in-cheek. But she’s damn right. Her confidence is affirmed when some latecomers arrive soon after. Instead of the usual ‘come in, welcome, take a seat etc.’ patter, Hughes merely yells, ‘you’re fucking late!’ – to the cackles of the rest of the audience. She’s never arrogant, though. Just bold, blunt, boisterous, and owning it.
As the show’s not-so-subtle subtitle suggests, this isn’t exactly suitable for the kids. Hughes talks us through various sexual exploits, when she learned to give a blowjob, and her thoughts on stereotypes about how well-endowed black men are. She even proudly tells us she was fired from a porn TV channel for being ‘too explicit’. Hughes takes complete ownership of her sexuality and makes it clear we need to ditch our shames and hangups about our sexual behaviours – particularly for the female audience members, as she comments on the normalisation of oral sex for men but not women. She also touches on race with cracking jokes and an empowering sense of self. There is a perspective of heteronormativity, though, as Hughes repeatedly refers to all the men in the room or all the women when making generalisations about sexual attraction or asking for our responses. It’s a minor irk amidst a bombastic performance though.
The hour is bursting with spot-on one-liners and brilliant punchlines that have the audience howling. Physicality is part of the repertoire here too. Hughes is utterly expressive: gesticulating, dancing and parading around the tight stage in a room that is clearly too small for a performer of this talent (many nights in her run are already sold out and an extra show has been added). There’s also the most outrageous and side-splitting piece of audience interaction this reviewer has seen at this year’s Fringe.
To Catch a D*ck is unapologetic and booming with character. Hughes is a comedic star and knows it, and this stint at the Edinburgh Fringe will surely be a springboard for many more appearances. Expect a much bigger venue next year – she’ll need it.