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Ben Lerman's Size Matters
Published on Saturday, 29 August 2009

Ben Lerman, a New York-based musical comedian, tells an illuminating story. Invited by Cosmopolitan magazine to perform on their digital radio station, Lerman was also hit with a list of restrictions, because "they were familiar with my body of work." With no swearing or mocking of the magazine allowed, he turned to the pages of Cosmo for inspiration, and came up with a lovely number called 'Multiple Orgasm Pam'.

Lerman's body of work, you see, is filthy: hilariously filthy, raucously bawdy, and, er... funnily dirty. It's also most often based on his experiences as a young gay man in New York city. After 'Pam', he announces "that ends the straight sex portion of tonight's show", to the obvious discomfort of some of the young guys sitting by the stage. He does get smuttier and gayer, but he also gets funnier and funnier, and he takes the audience with him. It's a pleasing thought that, every night, the people crammed into the basement of Cafe Renroc take part in a singalong about oral sex.

With some furore recently around the proliferation of offensive comedy, it's important to note that this doesn't really fall into that category. Some people may, understandably, be a little uncomfortable with such frank discussion of sexual matters, but this isn't a show that sets out to offend - it's actually quite tender at points, and is, in a sense, good clean fun. Well, perhaps there's just a smattering of bondage, crystal meth and 'chubby chasers'.

You could also, charitably, assume that the Size Matters title is about the two ukuleles Lerman alternates between. Most often associated on these shores with George Fornby (although he, research shows, actually played a banjolele), Lerman makes excellent use of the "guitar's two-year old baby". Lerman is an extremely talented singer-songwriter, and while some of the numbers are pushing at an open door (I could tell where the American Idol-inspired 'There's an Idol in Me' was headed before the first twang on the uke), he still goes for it at full speed, with nary an anal sex metaphor left unturned.

I kinda feel this is the sort of show about which many people would say "well, it isn't for everyone." Well, dammit, I think this is for everyone - who doesn't want to see this kind of charming, amiable comedian close up? Who doesn't want to take advantage of the best of the Free Fringe? Who doesn't want to laugh along with the story of an internet romance with someone whose online name suggests an "unconventional" relationship with a pig? On the Free Fringe point, be prepared with a sizeable donation: this is better than a lot of stuff you would pay upfront for.

Now, can I get a cookie for not saying "His name is Ben Lerman and he plays the ukulele?" Go see the show, you'll understand.

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