Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square, London, 22/11/2019.
I’d only heard two episodes of The Dollop podcast before attending this live recording and given how much it cost that might seem a little strange, but a very good friend was incredibly kind enough to buy me a ticket. The two episodes I’d heard were really strong too, one of them being an exploration of the horrifying practice of Purity Balls, and the other an insight in to the almost as horrifying business methods of Uber.
Hosted by Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds, both are accomplished comedians with Anthony being very well known for writing and appearing on Marc Maron’s sitcom (as well as various other shows) and being an acclaimed stand up too. Reynolds was less well known to me but he performed his own material for fifteen minutes or so at the beginning of the gig which warmed the room up nicely and proved to be very funny, his material on the Australian animal the Quokka being especially good.
After a surprisingly early interval Anthony came out and joined Reynolds for the recording of the podcast, along with special guest Rob Delaney. For those not in the know it’s normally devoted to American history, but as they’re currently on tour we got to hear all about an event in the early 18th century from the south of England which really beggared belief. The first part of the story revolved around Nathaniel St André, a doctor who became incredibly popular despite having no medical training, to the extent that he was a favourite of King George, but the whole thing became absolutely insane with the introduction of Mary Toft, a woman who started giving birth to animal parts.
Yep, that’s right, not full animals, no, that would be way too normal, but animal parts, mostly in the form of rabbits and cats but on one occasion there was a bit of eel too. Many doctors and midwifes believed it to be genuinely taking place, including the aforementioned Nathaniel St André who went as far as to publish a pamphlet about the case, and the story became quite famous. Now I won’t spoil how it ends but you perhaps won’t be too shocked to hear that she didn’t go on to start a zoo with all of her offspring.
Anthony was responsible for reading the story during the evening, with Reynolds and Delaney riffing on it, the latter had known them both during his time performing in the US before he moved to the UK and so fit in with their style of humour perfectly. Given the story was such a bizarre one a fair amount of the humour centred around the disbelief that such an event ever happened, but there were a good few impersonations of some of the individuals involved, the odd pun, and even some comedic sound effects which were both funny and grim at the same time.
As mentioned at the beginning I’d only heard two episodes of The Dollop before so it’s hard to compare this live recording to a standard episode, but as much as the two I had heard made me laugh, this was even better, and having Rob Delaney be part of it felt like a real treat. Perhaps it wouldn’t been as hilarious if I’d been aware of Toft’s tale but I imagine very few present would have been, and even then Reynolds, Anthony and Delaney were on such impressive, quick witted form that I’m pretty sure Toft herself would have found it amusing.
The Dollop’s Official Site.