How to spot a theatre wanker

Photography by Gianna Rizzo.
Photography by Gianna Rizzo.
Photography by Gianna Rizzo.

On any given month, I might be lucky enough to attend the theatre twice. That’s not too bad considering I’m poor and forgetful. Twice in one month. That means that for at least 2 hours a fortnight, I am exposed to most theatrical kind of wanker.

The Theatre Wanker: an interesting breed, to say the least. There always seems to be one of them lurking about in the foyer of a theatre or getting loose at a bar with a couple of gypsies and a trendy bar wench.

I have taken it upon myself to share my knowledge of what I know a Theatre Wanker to be. Now, they come in a lot of different shapes and sizes with various fetid smells and tufts of body hair, but this list will definitely help you to spot them in a crowd.

1 – Apparel
The Theatre Wanker has no time for polyester blends. He’s not concerned with mainstream printed tees. He knows nothing of tracksuit pants or hoodies. Fucking suede – that’s what he’s wearing. He’s wearing a fedora. He’s decked out in a velvet jacket, complete with a paisley-print hanky tucked safely between his chest pocket and the still beating heart of a failed artist.

It’s the kind of outfit that says ‘Oh, this? I threw this on about half an hour ago in a panic while I was writing poetry and debating with my housemate about the authenticity of Shakespeare’s sonnets and I totally forgot I had to be at the theatre! Whoopsie daisies! Let’s make love in a second hand bookstore, blanketed only by my velvet man-blazer. Who cares if the store clerk sees us! Let them watch! I will not be a slave to the man! And while we’re making love, I’ll probably cry. What of it? My velvet blazer has seen many a tear shed upon its lapel. Mop up my tears and drink lukewarm tea with me in a pile of old records and broken promises! But before we do that, let’s go to the theatre! ’Tis my favourite pastime, after all.’

2 – Name dropping
It doesn’t matter who wrote the play, directed the play or performed in the play. The Theatre Wanker claims to know them. The playwright could be an unknown, private, obscure Swedish hypnotist that grew up in West Africa and the Theatre Wanker would still say, ‘Oh, them? We studied together/worked on a show together/made love to each other/opened a bar in Barcelona together.’

Sure you did, buddy.

It is also really important to the theatre wanker that they are the most experienced person in the room. For example:

YOU: Is anyone interested in seeing that show next weekend?

WANKER: Oh, that show? I’ve already seen it. Four times. I got free tickets. From the director. We had a bit of a fling once. It’s a long story. Anyway, it was really good. Not as good as the show I went to last week. You know the show I’m talking about, right? The one that was almost impossible to get tickets to? Yeah, well, I got tickets. From the lighting designer. We had a bit of a fling once. Anyway, I’m blabbing on now. My friend, Geoffrey Rush, he told me I do that sometimes. He’s such a character. I’m meant to see him later for drinks. I would invite you but he’s a pretty private kind of guy. So, anyway, do you like my blazer?’

3 – Quoting
For some reason, the Theatre Wanker feels that it is necessary to rip out obscure theatrical quotes and references at really inconvenient times for no other reason than wanting to draw attention to themselves. They’ll say something abstract and then just hope and pray that you turn around and ask them where the quote was from so they can then continue to figuratively fap all over you and your ignorance. Then, before you know it, you are receiving a two hour lecture on the origin of‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple’.

(That’s Oscar Wilde, just in case you were wondering. BOOM, BABY!)

4 – They don’t eat.
It might sound strange, but it’s the truth. You never see a Theatre Wanker eating. I’m guessing they get their nourishment from cheap scotch and old manuscripts. They can drink like an unhinged racehorse but never does so much as a carrot stick pass their theatrical lips. I’m assuming they do all their eating in a private place. It’s probably the same place they go to cry on top of their framed arts degrees. 

5 – It was good, but…
Theatre Wankers tend to be the first people to criticise the work that you do. Even if the work you have done is mind-blowing, instead of saying, ‘Hot damn, girl! You smashed that out of the park!’, they’ll say something like ‘It was a interesting choice’ or ‘It’s just not at all what I expected.’

They will then go on to say a bunch of statements that start with ‘If it were me doing it…’ to which you of course reply ‘but it wasn’t you, stupid fuck.’

They are also very quick to disagree with you, no matter what the topic:

YOU: I really loved the visual effects in the second act!

WANKER: Really? Wow. I mean, I suppose that would be something you would like because you don’t know the difference between ‘good visual effects’ and ‘fun visual effects.’ Fun doesn’t always mean good. Don’t worry. One day it will all click for you like it did for me back when I was first starting out in the industry.

YOU: Okay… I’m going to go and eat one of those canapés.

WANKER: Really? A canapé? I mean, I suppose you can go and eat a canapé if you want. You obviously don’t understand the true meaning behind ‘eat a canapé.’ I can teach you if you want? I mean, I’m pretty busy lately what with all the projects I’m involved in, but if I can pull my head out of my own ass somewhere between 4pm and 5pm tomorrow afternoon, how about an espresso at my local?

6 – They are impossible to resist
Even though their breath is boozy, their manner is arrogant and they speak in an endless trail of unnecessary theatrical jargon, I kind of want to shut them up by violently smashing my lips against their lips. As much as I hate that stupid velvet blazer that smells like vinegar and old people, I kind of want to rip it off and see the remnants heaped helplessly on my bedroom floor. Even though they criticise everything I do, I kind of wish they were naked while doing so, touching me in the special places.

So, why is the Theatre Wanker so irresistible? Probably because on the off chance that they actually do know Geoffrey Rush, I want to be one step closer to the dream.

Alas it is true. I do love me a Theatre Wanker. I can only take comfort in the fact that, if I’m honest, I would even love me an old, pot-bellied librarian with a collection of rat babies and a fondness for wearing panties if he looked at me the right way and offered me a nice meal.

We’ve all got that one douchey friend that insists on proving their theatrical prowess at every opportunity.

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