First Night: Crude, rude - and irresistible

Sir Les Patterson Royal Festival Hall London

AH, THE Royal Festival Hall, the august venue which plays host to refined string quartets, uplifting choral works and, er, Sir Les Patterson, the man who has raised the public emission of bodily fluids to an art form.

But playing in these sophisticated surroundings as part of the Meltdown 99 Festival only seemed to egg Sir Les on to ever more gross extremes. He was like a naughty schoolboy, unable to suppress the urge to swear in front of the vicar. Sir Les himself admitted: "I know a lot of you are asking what is Les Patterson doing in a beautiful venue like this? And I tell you, I'm asking the same question."

Sir Les is the ultimate one-joke wonder - in his search for material, he rarely sees the need to stray far beyond his own orifices. But it is a joke pulled off with such panache that it scarcely matters.

From the moment he marched on stage last night after Nick Cave's fulsome introduction and asked, "Who was that tall streak of piss?", we knew we were not destined for a night of exquisitely subtle wordplay.

The audience, however, simply lapped up the stream of single entendres, most of which are too rude for reproduction in a family newspaper. I could not, for example, begin to recount what he produced from his trousers during his duet with Kylie Minogue. Nor would I contemplate repeating his explanation of how the Poet Laureate came to be known as Andrew Motion.

Barry Humphries' creation may revel in his image as the man political correctness forgot, but it is hard to resist a performer who takes such obvious joy in language. For instance, he called a hard-drinking friend "a card-carrying turps-nudger who bugles the bottle". Sir Les savours words like drops of amber nectar.

I could easily have lived without Sir Les's songs, and there was a ghastly crashing of gears as Germaine Greer came on in an academic gown to read out a ribald poem by the Earl of Rochester.

A garnish of kitsch was provided by a leather-clad Rolf Harris - yes, it was that kind of night. Dame Edna Everage also made a sparky appearance, breezing in for just long enough to insult a woman in the front row about her frock. "It's a lovely fabric. You were lucky to get so much of it."

But it was Sir Les's show. As he exited, the audience whooped and hollered with a fervour rarely heard within the hallowed portals of the Royal Festival Hall. Is Sir Les Patterson the greatest Australian export this side of the cricketer Shane Warne? No worries, mate.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
Life and Style
Shoulder of lamb with herb and hazelnut dressing
food + drink
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing