COMEDY: Scott Capurro; Freedom Theatre, London

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The Independent Culture
First impressions of Scott Capurro are somewhat disarming: a sweet- looking, wholesome San Franciscan gay boy in stripey T-shirt and white jeans, flirting breezily with whoever takes his fancy. And then, just as you're relaxing to his seductive banter, he tells you about his 88- year-old granny's penchant for revealing her mastectomy scar, before adding with some relish, "Thank God she didn't have a hysterectomy." This is Julian Clary with barbs.

Capurro has already won the Perrier Newcomer Award in 1994, before receiving a full Perrier nomination last year, and much of his reputation derives from his ease with a crowd. "Are you circumcised?" he enquires of a man in a black leather jacket seated near the stage. "Yeah," he replies unfazed. "Good, because 80 per cent of British males aren't... I've only just realised that on this trip, mind you." It's not your average comedian-punter exchange, but it's certainly more arresting than "Have we got any Americans in tonight?". At any moment you expect them to start comparing penis lengths and swapping phone numbers. You very quickly come to realise that Capurro's idea of audience participation is not so much an opportunity to show off his ad- libbing prowess, with which he is abundantly equipped, as a chance to trawl the front rows of the audience for gay talent.

The set material isn't half bad either. On ageing: "I'm 33... that's 80 in gay years." On coming out: "When I told my dad he said, `Great, now you can become a priest'. `Dad,' I said, `I'm gay but I'm not that gay.'" On cruising: "I picked up this guy outside my hotel in Russell Square, and, you know, I don't think he'd washed. He dropped his pants and I said, `Does that come with crackers?'."

Not only is he fond of references to his or anybody else's spare parts, but, if you've seen Capurro's promotional pictures, you'll know that he's not exactly ashamed of exposing his own toilet area either. One photo has him posing completely naked, with his willy dipped in a yellow lily and just a smidgeon of testicle peeking out from the side.

Tonight, we're spared that, though, rockstar-like, he can't resist a flash of his, admittedly, bronzed and lithe torso. This would be fine if he were Brett Anderson from Suede wowing Wembley, but in the pokey confines of the Freedom Theatre it comes across as somewhat incongruous. Let's face it, self-respecting, self-revealing comedians (your Gerry Sadowitzs and your Malcolm Hardees), and particularly ones as obsessed with their own body as Capurro, don't content themselves with giving just a genteel glimpse of their chest. It's a full-frontal or your money back.

But of the very few successful openly gay comedians knocking around (count 'em if you can), Capurro certainly seems to be having the most fun, probably because he's not an uptight Brit. And if he gets to go home with a date after 90 minutes of screaming comedy / picking up punters, then so much the better.

Mark Wareham

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