Be wary all who attend one of Chucky Bartolo‘s stand-up comedy shows; your morals are about to be chewed up, swallowed, spat out and stepped on. Mostly because you’re probably going to find yourself laughing a little bit too hard at jokes about wheelchair users.
Anyone watching one of Chucky’s shows for the first time is bound to feel a little uncomfortable, but that’s where the power of his stand-up lies: an unabashed combination of sass, obscure musical references, and one too many insults that will have you considering going back to confession for the first time in ten years.
But it’s not all insults and bad jokes, Chucky’s shows are entertaining too
And ‘Suspicious Baggage’ was no different. The show began with a classic lip-sync to Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman!’, a subtle reminder to all that he is a man dressed as a woman. In case any of us forgot. Or weren’t aware.
Sporting a tiger print catsuit and a pair of ‘Primark boots that are four sizes too small’, Chucky prances around the stage as the audience cheer in anticipation of what they’re in for. It’s clear that there will be no holds barred as soon as Chucky opens his mouth wide enough to deep-throat a microphone and explains that a ‘death drop’ is a thing “fej il-gays jixkanaw mal-art” – not to be confused with ‘drop dead’ which is “what Michela Pace’s personality does when she steps on a stage”.
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It’s not long until the fact that we’re all sitting in the Mount Carmel Hospital theatre is brought up
And by this point any audience member who thought they were in for a light-hearted evening of gay jokes and lip syncing is quickly catapulted into an uncomfortable reality.
From Ira Losco to Franco Debono to vocal audience members to Chucky himself; nobody was safe. Every ‘personality’ on the island was hit, even those who aren’t really relevant anymore *cough* Daniel Azzopardi *cough*. And although the jokes aimed at disabled (sorry, differently abled) individuals and the Mount Carmel patients may have been a bit too much, the jokes came in at such a high speed that you couldn’t dwell on them for too long.
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Last night was incredible ?? ___________ It me, your sleep paralysis demon ? ___________ Cannot wait to do it all again tonight ? so sad it’s only a two night run, but I’m so ready for a nap ? ___________ #malta #lovinmalta #wig #drag #dragqueen #makeup #gay #pride #theatre #comedy #standup
Somehow amidst all the morally questionable jokes, Chucky manages to hit at some real problems that Malta is facing
From the uprooting of trees to the “alleged” corrupt activities of our government to religion, Chucky reminded us that all is not ok here in Malta. And to better explain just how he did this, here are two images of his interpretation of Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ that was mashed up with ‘Colours of the Wind’ from the Disney Classic ‘Pocahontas’.
It was quite a ride.
Pair all of this with a couple of musical theatre references, Drag Race fan favourite song ‘Your Makeup Is Terrible’, and two audience members attempting to tuck a sausage between their legs live on stage and you’ve only begun to understand the rollercoaster that was ‘Suspicious Baggage’.
Because despite all the jokes about wheel chair users, we still cried with laughter. And despite making way too many jokes about Ben Camille’s sex life, he still enjoyed it. And despite all the shit going on in the world, people of all ages, backgrounds, genders and sexualities got together for an hour and a half of unrestrained laughter. And Lord knows we all needed it.