Pre-Coital is an education in the humour of sex. Thankfully, it avoids being rude, crude or even immature. Given that most sex-based comedy depends upon these three elements to generate laughs, I find this feat quite amazing. Not only is the whole experience educational and relatively tasteful, it is also a mini-cabaret show, complete with backing vocals and some winning melodies from the keyboard-and-guitar sidekicks who double as a Greek chorus to the charismatic host.
It is clear from the beginning that Chris, our host for the evening, is well-schooled on all facts libidinous. The show proceeds through various stages of sexual attraction, including the initial meeting of two people, the chemical forces that attract one person to another, and the contraceptive devices that will, in many cases, lead to a pair taking the last step out of the pre-coital element. Just in case this wasn’t enough of a diversion, the show also comes with accompanying slides and occasional props, all of which showcase Pre-Coital’s venture into the world of salacious mammalian activity.
As Chris explains, his show is all about what happens before the completion of the sexual act, and not the act itself. He comes dangerously close to breaking his own rule, but toes the line with enough quick wit to keep us laughing throughout. Pre-Coital is a weirdly and humorous science class, and unlike many other educational sessions, most teenagers would be feasting on the facts that Chris offers up to his giggling students.
In this show, audience participation is paramount; the power of pheromones to encourage sexual attraction is tested with audience volunteers, as is the retention capacity of the average silicone-based prophylactic. Statistics on the relation between beauty and the symmetry of faces are intermingled with jovial cabaret interludes and an emasculating session on the average sperm production of various mammals. Keyboard player Luke and guitarist Marty throw in perfectly-timed quips, adding an extra element of hilarity as Chris is occasionally upstaged by his own sidekicks.
Pre-Coital takes a huge risk in relying heavily on the eager participation of its audience. However, given the content and the way in which the show is staged, enthusiasm for taking part is easy to achieve. It is also rare to find someone who can improvise as naturally and as cleverly as Chris, Luke and at times, Marty —the quips were minimal but perfectly-timed, suggesting that it was not only planning and skill but the natural ability of the performers that allowed the format of this show to work so well.
Given the cheap ticket rates, there is little excuse not to see Pre-Coital. The content itself is surprisingly light-hearted and barely uncomfortable, allowing it to appeal to a wide range of people - yet you still wouldn’t want to sit next to your Mum during this show!
By Siobhan Argent, ArtsHub, Thursday, July 09, 2009.