Puppetry of the Penis: is Comedy Better in the Nude?

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Image courtesy of: A-List Entertainment

If you’ve always wanted to see grown men – wearing shoes, capes and not a lot else – playing with their jock puppets on stage, you’re in luck because Puppetry of the Penis is coming to Geelong.

Just to be clear, by “jock puppets” we do mean real, live, penises in their natural habitat. The genital-benders (Rick Binning and Barry Bristo) revealed to Celebrity Radio, “we did have a couple of shows where the audience didn’t know that there would be naked men on stage and not puppets. When we pull back those capes, usually, when people know what they’re going to see, there’s lots of cheering, lots of laughter. But those few shows, we threw open the capes: silence.”

So be warned: unlike The Vagina Monologues, which you’ll find suspiciously devoid of vaginas, puppetry of the penis delivers precisely what it promises. Which means the stakes, for the performers, are high. Every comedian has horror stories about flopping but flopping with your junk out would be a whole new level of mortification. Perhaps this is, in an odd way, why the show has been such an international sensation. Like tightrope walkers without a safety net, the Puppetry of the Penis performers have a lot riding on the perfection of their routine.

The original puppeteers: David Friend and Simon Morley. Image courtesy of Puppetry of the Penis

It’s now 20 years since the inventors of penis puppetry, Simon Morley and David Friend, first took “the ancient Australian art of genital origami” to the stage. Since then, they’ve expanded their phallic empire across the world, setting up a permanent show in Las Vegas and training new performers, like Binning and Bristo.

The show is described, by audiences and performers alike, as “one of a kind”. An accurate assessment considering what they’re doing is, strictly speaking, classified as “obscene exposure”. The technical illegality of the act wasn’t lost on Queenslanders, with the original show being banned in Cairns and Bundaberg. In Victoria, obscene exposure can land you a fine or, if you’re really unlucky, two years imprisonment and a criminal record. But these lads get to hold onto their freedom and their penises. Not only that, they get paid for it.

While the event sounds bizarre when you try to describe it in words, audience reactions indicate it’s one of those things that just works in action. And there’s no typical audience member. Everyone ends up giggling away in unison at the flopping, folding, spinning and jiggling on stage.

If genital sculptures like ‘the Loch Ness monster’, ‘the wristwatch’, ‘the roller skate’, ‘the windsurfer’ and ‘the fan’ (all shockingly accurate) have you too curious not to see how they do it, Puppetry of the Penis will be appearing at GPAC on Friday, April 13.

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