John Waters took the stage tonight at the Bagley Wright Theatre in a checkered suit with a bright red tie and blue canvas shoes. Between him and Paul F. Tompkins, there was some dapper threads on the stage for the first day of Bumbershoot.

John Waters, director of Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, Pecker, etc. is also (among other things) the author of several books. The subject of the most recent book was Waters hitchhikiing across the United States. When Waters was picked up by a touring rock band the story got picked up by the New York Times. Interesting as that is, it was only tangentially connected to the show that Waters performed tonight. Tonight’s show was as much stand-up comedy as it was autobiographical look back at his films, and his lifelong love of filth.

It turns out John Waters is a pretty good stand-up. It wasn’t that for the whole show, but there was definitely a good percentage. Personal monologue, I suppose you’d call it. It was billed under the performing arts section of the festival.

This blog doesn’t require age verification, so I’ll just go into some vagaries about some of the stuff that Waters talked about. He was delightfully filthy – like a beautiful song in a porno. Pedophilia jokes involving Justin Bieber, necrophilia what-ifs, obscure sex acts and the horrifying results thereof – all of of it hilarious.

You get the feeling that the loss of Divine for John Waters was kind of like losing a soul mate. When he speaks of her it’s always with equal pride and melancholy. Such was the case tonight. Paired with his story of getting a class of first-graders to do improv and pretend that they were in a crashing airplane, and how he gave them Chucky dolls, well, it just makes sense why even your staunch conservative mother-in law loves John Waters. He’s pretty much pure awesome. When he was done, we all stood up and cheered.

Culture Bumbershoot Review Day 1: John Waters, Filth, and Standing Ovations