Après le Déluge: It’s raining (mostly) excellent jokes

Pi Theatre is presenting Après le Déluge: The Buddy Cole Monologues at The Cultch

Caught smoking? Buddy Cole has a solution for you.
(Photo of Scott Thompson by Bruce Smith)

Scott Thompson’s Après le Déluge is transgressive in that good, old-fashioned sense — by which I mean it’s mostly good and but also sometimes old-fashioned, in ways that are not so good.

In Après le Déluge, which he wrote, Scott Thompson appears as Buddy Cole, his lounge-lizard character from The Kids in the Hall, a Canadian TV show that ran from 1989 to 1995. As Buddy, Thompson lets loose a series of comic monologues that take us from 1995 to right now.

Most of the material is great, especially if you celebrate sexual defiance, which I do. In my favourite line, which pops up in a riff on genital hygiene, Buddy says, “The penis is supposed to smell. That’s how you find it in the dark.” (Yes, do use this line as a litmus test.)

Buddy defies other orthodoxies, too. In the middle of his set, he lights up a smoke and says that, if anybody ever gives you trouble for smoking, you should, “just wave your cigarette around and pretend it’s smudging. Nobody will touch you.”

Then there’s the material that’s fantastically surreal. Buddy likes the idea of being a parent, so he adopts an imaginary child. “The best thing about having imaginary children,” he tells us, “is that you can leave them without food or water for days and, when you come home, all they want is to be untied.”

Okay, I’ve reached my three-quote limit on jokes. I’ve left a whole lot more to surprise you if you can squeeze yourself into one of the two remaining performances, which are both officially sold out — although you might be able to pick up a seat if you show up at the door.

I also want to talk about a couple of the other wrinkles in Après le Déluge that aren’t so successful for me.

One is a grey area: Buddy flirts with and teases a straight guy in the audience. On the one hand, this is funny and benign: “Come on, straight guy!” he seems to be saying, “You can be as pervy as I am. You’ll enjoy it.” On the other hand, this device plays on the supposed gap between gay and straight sexual experience. In my observation, that gap is so much narrower than it once was, especially among younger people, that this trope, with its unnecessary gay self-assertion, feels creaky.

There are a couple of other iffy bits, including a riff on gender-neutral pronouns, but the diciest comes in Buddy’s encore: he compares male circumcision to female circumcision and plays with the idea that male circumcision is more of a problem because men grab their cocks to make a point, but women don’t grab their vulvas. Sure, he’s being ironic and deliberately provocative, but the joke’s not worth it: there’s no liberation in this humour. The Vancouver audience let Thompson know that on opening night. I hope he heard us.

APRÈS LE DÉLUGE: THE BUDDY COLE MONOLOGUES By Scott Thompson. Directed by Robin Collins. Presented by Pi Theatre as part of Pi Provocateurs. AT The Cultch in the Historic Theatre on Thursday, September 19. Continues until September 21. Tickets. (The website says it’s sold out, but you might want to talk to the box office about that.)

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About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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