Shawn Hitchins is the D-Bag Du Jour. Photo by Kai Yapp.
Early on in the multi-talented Shawn Hitchins‘ new cabaret/comedy/solo performance piece Shawn Hitchins is a Single White Douche (which opened last weekend at Buddies), the gentle ginger warns us that “this isn’t Glee,” and encourages us to buy a few drinks from the bar so we can experience “the original Auto-Tune.” It’s the kind of funny, topical, and self-deprecating humour that characterizes Hitchins’ show, but it’s also something of a ruse: it becomes quite evident as soon as he starts singing his lounge-ified arrangements of songs by the Spice Girls, Kylie, and Alanis (his level of sincerity probably resting somewhere between Rock Swings–era Paul Anka and Richard Cheese) that Hitchins has a lovely singing voice that doesn’t actually require the kind of post-production needed for Jane Lynch.
The douchiness referred to in the show’s title is connected to being a cutting-edge urban gay who opts for pedicures instead of clipping his toenails and can’t imagine a world without Interac. But don’t expect a mean-spirited bitch-fest: Hitchins is one of those intensely likable performers you can’t help rooting for. His show isn’t quite a stand-up routine or a play; it’s a series of anecdotes, digressions, and the occasional bad Scottish accent broken up by crooning musical interludes (Hitchins is accompanied by Anne Barnshaw on keyboard). The jokes are funny, the songs are often strangely beautiful (honestly, we’d always kinda hated “One Hand in my Pocket” before, but now we’re reconsidering), and while not every section is as tight as it could be, there’s definitely more entertainment to be had here than in about any movie we’ve seen this year (sorry, TIFF!).
We don’t tend to get too deep in this cabaret, which is fine, but there are a few moments near the end of the show where you feel Hitchins is showing us a more vulnerable side. When he talks about feeling out of place in a world built for tweenagers, the emotion is real and poignant. And there is something almost anachronistic about a funny/schmaltzy queer torch-song solo show. Isn’t the very idea oh-so-twentieth-century? Fortunately, Hitchins rescues the genre with a heavy dose of twenty-first century sass and sardonic wit. If your Friday night’s looking a bit “less than fresh,” you might just want to get over to Buddies and give this Douche a try.
Shawn Hitchins is a Single White Douche plays until September 18 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.