Tony St Clair
The comedy psychic has Joe Nawaz hiding the nibbles
It’s funny how people pop up in the unlikeliest of places. The first time I laid eyes on super-psychic to the stars Tony St Clair was at a house party I threw some months back. The only spirits he seemed to be reaching out for that night were Captain Morgan’s and Jack Daniels, although they didn’t seem to mind much.
Imagine my surprise, then, when St Clair turned out to be hosting his own star-studded revue at the Black Box. Actor and comedian Chris Heath was very nice at my party. His alter-ego, however, is somebody you’d probably think twice about putting on your invite list.
TSC (as he’s known in the business) is a vainglorious monster - a huge, thrusting jazz-handed failure of a phoney. The only difference between Tony and, say, creepy Scouse snake oil salesman Derek Acorah is that the audience is in on this joke from the off. And the tickets are cheaper…
Heath’s grotesque creation mines a rich seam of camp showbiz clichés, with his 'kiss kiss, hug hug' catch phrase and boundless need for crass audience interaction. I wonder if it’s just coincidence that he shares a name with a poodle-haired exponent of that other camp 70s staple – TV wrestling.
St Clair is a deluded entertainer who is oblivious to his own sense of rubbishness. As the story goes, this is meant to be a homecoming of sorts. But whither be the audience? Paranormal comedy enthusiasts seem to be thinner on the ground than ethical papal decrees tonight. Has Tony misjudged the lure of his afterlife extravaganza?
He needn’t worry. The stage manager must be clairvoyant as well, and keeps the doors open until the venue is at least three-quarters full (or 'sold out' as the incorrigible Mr St Clair boasts on his facebook page afterward).
Bouncing on to the strains of Queen, all 'kiss kiss, hug hug', the crepuscular clairvoyant goes round the tables performing small feats of psychic wonder. But the pesky spirits keep getting things wrong. Genders are reassigned, names are confused and St Clair even informs me that my friend is playing away behind my back.
The cast of 14 characters in this mega-ensemble also includes St Clair’s arch nemesis, Fabulous Fabio McDaid and his monstrous mother, Tia Maria St Claire. Tia Maria is a dipsomaniac fortune teller of huge appetites who appears to have inherited Bella Emberg’s plus-size bustier and taste for off-colour innuendo.
During the show St Clair’s third eye gets a good squeezing, there’s a comedy Free-Presbyterian minister with a flock of one and at one stage St Clair is psyching so hard that he soils himself. And that’s only the first act!
I confidently predict that Tony St Clair will run and run. Tonight it's not so much about the belly laughs as the bonhomie: a spirited attempt at good old fashioned comedy revue. Heath is welcome back to one of my wine and cheese soirées any time. I’m not so sure about Mr St Clair though.