Phill Jupitus is Porky the Poet in ‘Juplicity’
Jam House, Venue 44, 5 Queen Street,
17:00 18-23 August (seen 15th August)
Review: Becca Inglis
Fans of Phill Jupitus will be delighted to learn that he has again returned to the Fringe, this time under the pseudonym ‘Porky the Poet’. This was Jupitus’s alter ego before his rise to fame on Never Mind the Buzzcocks and other panel shows when he recited political poetry and associated himself with punk-rock ranting poets. Whilst his performance in Edinburgh was slightly less radical, Jupitus did convey a sense of his multifaceted career in the entertainment industry since his beginnings as ‘Porky’.
It might seem obvious to comment on Jupitus’s evident comfortableness on stage, but it was refreshing to witness a performer who could command the audience’s attention without urgency. As a host he was superb, wittily introducing his poems with the comic flair that has added to his success on television. His interest in music shone through, particularly in one poem, “Matinee 1978”, which documented “the first time I went to a gig”. Jupitus first appealed to the audience and discovered many first gigs, some more embarrassing than others, entertaining the rest of us with quips about Steps and Suede (“We’ve heard it before – I’ve got Smiths albums, thanks!”). This was arguably Jupitus’s best performed poem, with its emphasis on rhyming with “Jupitus” and fast-paced metre helping it trip along in a fantastic depiction of his excitability at seeing Blondie live. Skilful, hilarious, and even slightly erotic, this piece wonderfully showcases Jupitus’s flair for poetic writing.
This is perhaps however not the show for hardcore fans of spoken word. Jupitus’s poetry does showcase his technical capability through his proficiency with refrains, rhyme, and motif, but it was arguably his guest speaker Luke Wright who better exemplified the manipulation of sound that adds to performance poetry. His so-called “ode to service stations” made use of a mockney accent, for example, that careered through a torrent of words until he slowed the tempo to demonstrate the “oasis” that service stations can represent on a busy motorway. Wright too demonstrated comic flair when he wryly informed the audience, in reference to the approaching Referendum, “I couldn’t figure out what I thought, and I thought you’d want to know”. Adopting a stereotypical posh accent, Wright skilfully integrates irony into his “simple plea from an Englishman” who narrates his love for “haggis, heart disease” and “ditties like ‘Donald Where’s You’re Troosers?’” as justification for a continued union. Whatever your stance on the vote for independence, this piece certainly makes for an interesting and topical piece of art that showcases Wright’s talent.
What stood out about ‘Porky’ was the seeming camaraderie around the room. Jupitus took one moment to stand upon his self-proclaimed soap-box and explain his involvement in the Free Fringe, protesting, “This is a gathering, not a market-place”. He deplored the expensiveness of the fringe, insisting instead upon the accessibility of art for everyone. This democratic approach to art sums up well Jupitus’s approach to his performance: audience participation was rife; we were given a glimpse of Jupitus’s more private and sentimental side in his obituary to his deceased agent, Addisson Cresswell (“the mouth from south of Deptford”), and his narration of his “different kind of love” for the painting The Lady Agnew of Lochnaw; and he ended the show by personally shaking the hand of what seemed to be every audience member at the door. This event brilliantly eschews accusations that poetry can seem inaccessibly high-brow, interweaving instances of humour, personal anecdotes, and popular culture that make ‘Porky’’s poetry palatable to all.