NAUGHTY BUT NICE

Only the British could make a hardcore porn podcast that’s this hilariously unsexy

If you live in the UK, you already know that My dad wrote a porno is the funniest podcast—nay, the funniest comedic entertainment—of all time. (If that’s an exaggeration, it’s only a very slight one.)

The premise of the podcast is exactly as it sounds. The host, Jamie Morton, reads out explicit erotica written by his 60-year-old father, whose pen name is Rocky Flintstone. His friends, Alice Levine and James Cooper, chime in with enthusiastically appalled commentary.

Though it is all horrendously awkward—and indeed Morton might want to revisit some episodes with his therapist—the podcast is overwhelmingly, ridiculously joyful. It’s currently the second most popular iTunes podcast in the UK (where it was produced), the fifth most popular in Australia. And it is slowly catching on in the US, where it’s at number 34.

As Morton wrote in the Telegraph of his father’s erotica: “It is utterly non-threatening and I think one of the reasons for the podcast’s success is that people are able to project their own father onto Rocky Flintstone. There is warmth throughout the book, it’s affectionate, it’s even freakishly comforting.”

Let’s be clear, Morton’s dad didn’t pen some soft-core, vaguely sensual romance novel. The book describes, in outlandishly purple prose, full-on, kinky sex. Its scenarios include gang bangs, being whipped in a maze, a threesome performed in an Amsterdam red light district shop window, an office leather sex room, and a few casual orgasms onboard a plane.

But despite its explicit descriptions, the podcast is never, not in the least bit, truly sexy. My family, who are very much not the type to talk about sex at the dinner table, are perfectly happy discussing the latest My dad wrote a porno episode. Surely only the British could turn graphic sex scenes into something so hilarious.

The podcast doesn’t exactly fit into the “No sex please, we’re British,” stereotype. But Rocky Flintstone’s lusty protagonist, Belinda Blumenthal, manages to tap into a certain kind of incongruous vulgarity that British humor thrives upon. While unique, the podcast’s goofy, sex-centered humor shares a similar spirit to such British comedy classics as Benny Hill, the Carry On films, and even the (American made, but very British in style) Austin Powers.

How does one make a sex-filled podcast so profoundly unsexy? For starters, Belinda Blumenthal works in the pots and pans industry, and her enthusiastic attention to mundane administrative details and business deals helps dull the lust.

Every episode is also littered with astoundingly absurd descriptions. Breasts “hung freely, like pomegranates.” Nipples are “as large as the three-inch rivets which had held the hull of the fateful Titanic together.” Oral sex is “tasting the flesh of mankind.” There are also a few sexual acts that, quite simply, don’t make sense—such as foreplay that inexplicably involves “grabbing her cervix.” (Not anatomically possible, for anyone wondering.)

Christie Davies, a sociology professor at University of Reading who focuses on humor, says British comedy takes great delight in flouting the supposed suppression of sex. “It’s a society that on the one hand says a lot of things are non-mentionable, but on the other hand shows incredibly ingenuity about mentioning them,” he says.

In some ways, My dad wrote a porno serves a noble purpose in demystifying sex, and in showing that it can be hilarious. One young couple wrote to the hosts to say that they lost their virginity after listening to the podcast, as the show helped them realize that sex needn’t be intimidating.

Sex can, of course, be sexy. But, as the British have always understood, it can also be awkward, intimate, and bizarre. And very, very funny.

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