Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Tittitutar Town is populated by a lot of marine animals. And a spider. And a ghost girl. They’re all unhinged – and they are hilarious.
Walking along Grassmarket and heading towards Sweet Venues, I passed a woman leafletting in a shark costume. I thought she was either someone who was trying too hard to be wacky, or was barking mad. She was definitely the latter.
This I was not expecting. When a comic you have never heard of claims on their publicity material that they are similar to The Mighty Boosh, you step back and cast a wary eye. Many might think it, few can acheive it. This brand of comedy has a loyal fanbase but the pointless silliness and surreality is not going to amuse everyone. This is not family entertainment, but yet I think Cheekykita (the perhaps-not-so-far-removed creation of Sonja Quita Doubleday) could appeal to children just as much as adults if she took out the expletives. Actually, leave them in. The kids will love the swearing.
‘Tittitutar Town’ is not even a show I intended to review but, after watching it, I found I had a moral obligation to do so. I am going to say this from the outset: Cheekykita is the funniest comedian (let alone, God forbid, I should point out comedienne) I have ever seen. Halfway into the show I was on the verge of walking out simply because I couldn’t breathe and was in a lot of physical pain from having been screaming with hysterical laughter for half an hour – and it had been from the opening second. The sound and lighting technician was (unusually) sitting on a chair at the edge of the performance area in the small room, herself unable to contain her reactions, turning beetroot red with laughing, and God knows how many times she’d seen it by then.
How on earth do you describe this bonkers hour? Imagine 50% Jane Horrocks, 25% Su Pollard and 25% Charles Manson and, if you can bring yourself to comprehend that, you might find yourself to be a suitable demographic. She has Jane’s voice, feigned disinterest and dourness, Su’s unsettling off-the-wall need to be crazy and Manson’s frightening gibbering style of ranting in your face, not that I imagine he will be doing stand-up anytime soon. Doubleday eschews the conventional format and instead indulges in a variety of costumes, running from budget to lovingly-created. When she goes offstage to change, she is shouting and swearing that she’s tripped up over something or that it’s too dark to see what she’s doing. She does it every time and it’s a statement of her natural talent that it gets funnier each time she does it. She speaks in a completely naturalistic, often detached and matter-of-fact way which makes the fact she’s coming out with the most bizarre situations all the funnier. It surpasses Izzard at his best not only in silliness but by the fact she convinces you its true by her very lack of surprise at it all, as if everything she’s saying happens every day.
Her first character (after introducing her face through a shoebox stage) is a spider. With lots of legs. Naturally. It speaks with an accent that comes from nowhere on this planet – hints of Cornish, Irish and Lancashire. The spider’s bored. In fact, most of her creations are bored. It sings a song and allows the audience to stroke its legs. Then she re-enters as a scary spooky girl. Dressed like she’s come out of The Exorcist or The Ring and staring with the look of Elsa Lanchester or False Maria with just a hint of Kate Bush (you see how difficult this is to convey), this main character re-appears several times. The funniest of these is when the lights go down and she keeps popping up behind audience members and making them jump. I jumped.
There was a little man living inside her. She shrunk an audience member to go inside and sort him out and then gave birth to them. There was a sort-of bird puppet. She became a scally crab and did a crab dance and karaoke. Then we met his wife, a guppy fish who asked the audience to give her moods for her body and face. Staying piscean, we met a puffa fish piranha who looked a bit like a flower. Some time later, and she’s having a terrible date with a member of the audience. Now she’s a shark holding a party with a crab and a ghost (again, members of the audience whisked off backstage to don the costumes) and leaves them to dance together. They have a dance off. The little man that had been inside her earlier on has turned into an eel and the show finishes with all the characters shrunk to toy size in the cardboard box theatre.
You couldn’t dream this. But it happened. And Cheekykita created this maelstrom and shared it with us. Throughout I was wondering if I was witnessing the birth of something spectacular. This all happened in a little room seating about 20 people. This act could – and should – be playing, and selling-out, big venues. I can’t wait to see her perform again. It is the silliest, maddest, funniest hour I have ever spent and it is fantastic.