Elvis McGonagall and Mark Madden
Across the UK celebrities ears start to burn as Elvis McGonagall takes the stage at the Black Box.
You have to admit, Elvis McGonagall is right. He does have the same hairstyle as his dog.
It's the wild-haired, tartan jacket wearing Scottish performance poet's first visit to Northern Ireland. The closest he's been before is Bristol, where he shared a flat with two guys from Derry. He knows Mark Madden, his opening act, though. In 2007 he opened for Madden, and the other poets competing, at the UK Poetry Slam championships.
They are two very different poets.
On stage Madden is relaxed, hiding scathing comments and sardonic humour under a lazy cadence. Tonight he pulls an eclectic selection of poems from his repertoire, ranging from the social commentary of 'City of Angles' to the story poem 'Secret Lives' which summons to mind the matter-of-fact surrealism of a Tim Robbins novel.
'Secret Lives' has the narrator's clergywoman mother retiring to a 'cloistered order of monocle wearing dykes' after a mud wrestling scandal.
It's the louche self-awareness of 'The Twins' that remains my favourite though, with Lucy pleading and Stacy leading a hapless relative into a decadent Brideshead Revisited underworld. Sometimes it feels like you should feel a little dirty for enjoying Madden's poetry.
By comparison, McGonagall's poetry leaves you breathless as your brain hurries to keep up with his mouth. He's an energetic, excitable performer whose poetry spills off his tongue, always just one syllable away from tripping over itself.
He starts by reciting a Sturm und Drang piece that summons up looming clouds, a furious sea and an afternoon of immense tedium ahead until he finishes it with a cheerfully chirped 'and that's the weather forecast!'.
The rest of the afternoon performance is filled with political indictments, over the top social commentary and an unexplained but persistent hatred of Sting. 'Oh Sting,' McGonagall declaims, a knowing dart of his eyes inviting the audience to keep up, 'where is thy death?'.
For a man whose poetry is based around the premise of being very, very angry he's immensely likable. Perhaps it is the resemblence to a wolfhound.
He hates Dave Cameron too, 'the curly haired Tory twat'. His poem 'Call me Dave' is a recited list of Tory campaign slogans and soundbites that devolves into pointless gibberish and popping noises.
Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Jeremy Clarkson all seem to have made it into his bad books. They come to sticky ends, 'Gordon Ramsay exploded. F**kbang!'. He doesn't like Bono much, delivering a hilarious poem about how the world is saved now that Bono has his leather 'trousers of philanthropy' back.
Neither is McGonagall a member of Tony's fanclub, although he does do a credible Blair accent in 'I Believe', in which the former PM holds forth on how 'I believe in me, myself and I' and 'I believe a big boy did it and ran away'.
Peaches Geldof, he seems to be against mostly on principle.
He is for the fight against global warming though. After all, if the icebergs melt 'those wee Artic Monkeys will die!'. And he has a soft spot for Gordon Brown's complete lack of charisma, something he thinks could have been solved if Brown had gone by his middle name of James. 'He'd be a fiscally prudent sex machine!'
Mostly though, he doesn't like people. That's good. Misanthropy is funnier.
As McGonagall winds up the performance, with 'The End is Nigh' not being the end at all, all across the UK celebrities ears are burning.