Review – Pity Laughs : A Tale of Two Gays – Just the Tonic at the Caves


Until August 26th – £5

I really wanted to like this show. I really did.

The ‘poster premise’ looked good. Two besuited handsome young chaps; one smiling holding a couple of dildos, the other looking quizzically over a book, possibly a bible. A Tale of Two Gays – possibly with very different views on life, and the comical tale of how they became friends?

Despite only arriving a couple of minutes before the show started, the venue was only half full. Hardly a crime for a midweek show but not the best for atmosphere.

Out bounced the lads. Not in suits but in the millennial uniform of skinny jeans.

‘How are you all doing with the quiz?’, they roared. A few questions later, after going through the laminated quiz sheet I discovered I was not Tim Farron. I had to cast my mind back as to why this was relevant.

Next came a variation on the above theme – getting a straight member of the audience, and a gay member of the audience to answer similar questions to the opener. We discovered the young straight lad might be gay.

Ten minutes into the show, the pair announced the show was starting.

Pretty much every punchline and gag that followed involved cock or ass. It was like being with your two gay best mates when you are fifteen, drinking buckie down the park, and them telling you about their school trip to Amsterdam.

There were good moments. The sketch involving gay men through history was a stand out for me and if they had continued in that vein, this could have been a four or even five star review.

Sadly though, the confidence in the material and comedy timing just wasn’t there. The pair frequently had to resort to reading out from their ‘red book’ of stories, even at one point asking a confused member of the audience to do so.

Sketches that dealt with gay topics of debate such as nature or nurture ended abruptly and moved without warning into satirical comedy, then into some one liners then back to a sketch. Ultimately the show ended up having too many themes.

  • Was this about their friendship? (This was explored through a five minute sketch involving a Grindr gag and their imaginary(?) first date).
  • Was this about Mark becoming an orphan at a young age? As a gay man who lost a parent at a young age, I really wanted to relate to this section. Again, he struggled to build the pathos here, and the short sketch was brought to an abrupt end by Will Dalrymple running on and throwing fake money on him, exclaiming crudely how rich Mark’s inheritance had made him.
  • It was certainly about gay sex. And lots of it. But playing to a mainly queer crowd, laughing about sucking cock is hardly something we have not seen or heard before.
  • Was the show about being gay in 2018? The show touched on themes around coming out but not in any conclusive or insightful way.

If the show’s content left the audience feeling confused, the ending took that confusion to another level. Mark ends with a set piece which sees him getting aggressively angry and storming off stage. This did not seem convincing and only ended up confusing the audience further.

Will bounces on at the very end to tell us he has a new erotic gay novel out called ‘Man to Man’ with a box of unsold copies. I honestly could not tell you if these were actual books or not.

Despite the show’s flaws, it did get laughs. In fact some of the audience were positively guffawing at points.

And the above review is in no way a criticism of the lads personally. It takes a massive amount of confidence to get on stage and perform. For Mark in particular to talk about his parents’ deaths and his sexuality on stage was really to be admired. They both come across as affable and I would be the first to buy them a pint if they come back to Edinburgh next year.

If they do though I would suggest they choose one of the following options:

A) Ditch the skinny jeans, put on leather jeans and go full on filth B) Split and Mark do a stand up based on being gay and an orphan C) Do a gay Dick and Dom style sketch show D) Leave comedy, enter politics and become Tim Farron.

I sincerely hope the answer will not be D) and to see the lads next year back at the Fringe with a new show.