Review: ‘Starf#ckery’ (David Benjamin Tomlinson)


David Benjamin Tomlinson dishes the dirt on celebs in his solo show Starf#ckery at Toronto’s Queer Pride 2015

As part of the Queer Pride 2015 line-up, Canadian Comedy Award-nominated writer and performer David Benjamin Tomlinson presented his dirt-dishing solo show ‘Starf#ckery’ in The Cabaret at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre on June 25.

Tomlinson has logged over a decade as a staff member and red carpet stalwart at the Toronto International Film Festival. While not many people have had his particular, star-studded experiences as a TIFF vet, anyone who has been involved in the running of a complex event can relate to his stories.

It was clear from the opening moments that the audience was excited to welcome David Benjamin Tomlinson to the stage. It was a friendly, positive, vocal room, and, being Pride after all, festive. Indeed, some were so enthused that they whooped and cheered over part of Tomlinson’s introduction! He was soon regaling us with tale after tale of celebrity-related disaster, hilarity and oddity as the life of the party to which we’d all been invited.

I love that moment in a show when I realize that not only am I having a good time, but a quick glance confirms that everyone else is being swept away as well. To borrow a line from ‘Starf#ckery,’ “the kittens [were certainly] in the basket.” As the house lights came on, the only real disappointment was in realizing that the show – and the stories – were over.

Tomlinson was a capable storyteller, brash and unflappable despite the occasional difficulty with his headset. He vividly evoked scenes layered with stress, exhaustion, excess and eccentricity, even managing a gentle thread of compassion. The names he dropped were impressive; from Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson to Nicholas Cage and Faye Dunaway, we heard brow-raising, behind-the-scenes info that would make ‘Starf#ckery’s’ material impossible to duplicate. I only wonder how he’s gotten away with exposing a few of those details!

One thing I’d like to hear more about in ‘Starf#ckery’ is the way in which actor Faye Dunaway came to figure so strongly in Tomlinson’s life and esteem before becoming the subject of the show’s most climactic tale.

This was my much-anticipated maiden visit to the legendary venue, and my first exposure to Tomlinson’s work. A few minutes into the performance, my companion (sister-in-law Erin) leaned over with a smile and said, simply, “I like this guy.” I had to agree. Tomlinson is the sort of fellow whom you could easily to sit and listen to for hours, on stage or off.

I can only shudder to think of calling forth Tomlinson’s ‘nuclear winter’-grade ‘Bitch-in-the-Headset’ persona, which he reserves for those at TIFF who exhibit the worst behaviour. However, it’s sure fun to listen to how he’s dealt with the poor unfortunates who have!


  • Starf#ckery played on June 25at Buddies in Bad Times in the Cabaret, as a part of Queer Pride 2015.
  • Visit the website for more information on Queer Pride 2015 programming.

Photo of David Benjamin Tomlinson by David Hawe