I first heard Mike Dugan at Jongleurs, a comedy club at Camden Lock, North London. He came on late when half the audience was ripped, sat down on a barstool and started to talk. He looked like a nice guy, a distinct disadvantage in that part of London where nice guys don’t finish last, they finish up toast. But Mike's opening lines resonated with the audience: ‘I was the youngest child in my family and by the time they had got around to me it was pretty much ‘No heroin in the living room’. ‘Michael, you’re not using the good spoons, are you?’” That got a big laugh and it soon became apparent that Mike Dugan had something important to say on a subject that is normally taboo in North London: relationships. “I have one piece of advice for men,” he said and every male was riveted. ‘If you break up with a woman, you had better do it smoothly, or you will never get another good one again. Women have an intelligence network that rivals the CIA. They make the Internet look like two tin cans with string tied between them. I guarantee if you screw over a woman tonight, by tomorrow morning you'll be on a shit list in Afghanistan....” There followed a wonderful half-hour of philosophizing on trust, responsibility, intimacy, commitment, masculinity, role models, lap dance clubs, marriage, cheating and pornography, sprinkled with some snappy one-liners, such as: “Sex between two people is beautiful – provided you can get between the right two people…” and “Women are basically researchers. Especially in bed. That only looks like a negligee: it's really a lab coat... ” At the end guys with bullet-heads and no ears were looking mistily into the eyes of their girlfriends. Now Mike Dugan has placed his philosophy between the covers of a book, Men Fake Foreplay… And Other Lies that are True. The book expands and develops his stage show in interesting and thought-provoking ways. The punchline is so wise it hurts: “I didn't have to figure out women in order to be happy. It was never about finding the right woman. It was about becoming the right man.” Men Fake Foreplay isn’t a cynical, exploitative tome designed to make women feel neurotic and vulnerable. Rather, it celebrates “la difference” and gives us all hope that maybe one day we’ll be able to behave a little better towards the opposite sex. I wish I’d read it when I was 16.
- Peter Thompson