Chris Brooker, Jessica Fostekew, Robin Morgan and the wonderful Wilfredo (Matt Roper)
The weird, the wacky and then there was Wilfredo!
Another night, another comedy gig. It’s been a very busy week comedy wise and we’re both feeling the pace. Dave has been out six nights out of seven, and for myself, well I’m lagging behind on just five, having begged off of the Danny Ward one due to sheer exhaustion and needing to catch up with stuff at home. What’s it going to be like in Auld Reekie??
Still, here we are in the lovely Seven Stars in the weird and wacky town of Totnes, Devon. We like this place a lot; you certainly get an eclectic crowd and can never tell just what wonderful absurdity is going to present itself. Tonight’s audience was no exception and the first thing that Chris, our ginger Viking MC (with a new, short haircut!) was to address “the elephant in the room”; in this case, not so much an elephant as a three month old baby named, on asking, Reuben (“of course he is – this is Totnes”). Reuben was safely strapped to his dad by a huge blue wrap around shawl/sling affair, Totnes fashion and spent the rest of Chris’s warm-up eyeballing him in a most menacing fashion.
And so to the first “opening” act, and the lovely Dorset burr of Jess Fostekew. We know Jess well and have a high opinion of her work. Hailing from Swanage, Jess is down to earth and has some great facial expressions and good material to go along with them. With an ear for accents and not afraid to give us some strongly suggestive physical comedy, Jess made us all want to attend her Zumba classes and follow her exotic, if ancient, dance teacher’s moves. I particularly enjoyed the Italian hotel worker with a vocabulary full of Northern Irish technical terms regarding housekeeping. Brilliant! (Go catch her at the Voodoo Rooms at the Fringe – it isn’t in the main program – ‘Jessanory’ 2:35pm, also catch her at the Pleasance in the wonderful ‘Knightmare Live’ 5:30pm)
The first break and then some more from our MC. Next up on Chris’s hit list was a tall chap in the front row, behatted, bearded, wild of hair and in a “loud” shirt. On querying, it turned out he was a counsellor for transsexuals so no further p*ss could be extracted and Chris then moved on to a young chap a few seats further along who, when asked his age, said…”Errrrrr – 18!” The general consensus seemed to be hmmmmm – pull the other one young man!
Our middle act was a replacement for Jack Campbell, who had just won the English Comedian of the Year the night before and had immediately pulled out of our gig. Robin Morgan, tall and fair, let us know right away that he was from Brighton, but that he had a girlfriend (so not gay then). We had tales of Gay Bingo, how Robin is not good at being single, and how manly he was to use a pair of hair straighteners to defend himself against a night time intruder. A good middle spot, not letting the energy dip at all.
Into our second break, another few minutes from our latter day Samson (AKA Chris), and then onto our headliner, The Wonderful Wilfredo. http://www.wilfredo.es/ Wilfredo is a character act and the man behind this Mediterranean force of nature is comedian Matt Roper. It’s apt that the first time we have ever seen Wilfredo is in Totnes as this is where his persona was born in 2008. Wilfredo has become a cult act with a large following, although, on first seeing him, it’s hard to believe it.
Coming on stage in an old, tight flamenco type shirt which is open halfway down his less than lissome torso, trousers pulled far too high, outlining his errr… masculine physicality, and the legs of which are flapping around his shins with belt loops split at the back…his wardrobe certainly leaves something to be desired. Top this with a wild black wig which looks like it’s on sideways, prominent prosthetic teeth which are in need of a good clean, and a certain assumed continental swarthiness, and it’s certainly not his manly charms which draw audiences back.
Wilfredo is a Spanish lounge singer, and along with his Uncle Ignacio on his guitar, sang to us as only he can. Valerie, (by the Zutons) during which the audience were encouraged to accompany him in the chorus, while he swilled and spilled beer over the floor and the audience while he danced up and down the aisle, was a bravura performance.
Many other songs, which Wilfredo would appear to have penned himself, told us of his prowess with women, and how virile he was, having fathered so many children. He serenaded several ladies, admitting to especially liking women who wore glasses; my specs stayed firmly in their case in my bag!
Hacking, coughing, spitting up phlegm, (and commenting on how it felt going back down!!), burping, sweating; all of these little idiosyncrasies were further additions to the whole experience that is Wilfredo. Childlike, his self-consciousness is as non-existent as his ego is massive and we were left feeling that we should be grateful that he had deigned to let us witness his talents at all.
The Totnes punters were absolutely lapping it up and as a character act, Wilfredo is a brilliantly inspired piece of invention. For the first ten minutes I was thinking “NO!” and by the end I was thinking “YES – I get it!” Having been around the world doing this act, the next stop is Edinburgh where he is playing the Hive, nightly at 6:30pm)
A lovely night once again at the Seven Stars – guaranteed giggles every time!