The man who’s helping Malta laugh about sex

“Whether you’re a teenager, or a middle-aged or an elderly person ... the embarrassment of sex and dating is kind of the same. I find this really sweet. My message is this: everyone has their weirdness in this aspect, and that’s perfectly fine.”

“I love stories about old people having sex!”

As bizarre as this sounds, one Maltese man is exploring the world of sex and sexuality using a rather unorthodox tool: humour.

The Journal sat down with comedy artist Steve Hili, to hear all about his daring concept: a theatrical production aptly called ‘Naughty Malta’s Sexy Secrets’.

The concept is simple but effective, and interesting to the many who are flocking to see it. Back in July, Hili sent out an online questionnaire that could be answered anonymously, inviting people to submit their embarrassing stories related to sex and general naughtiness. Around 300 people responded to his invitation, and the anecdotes submitted were turned into theatrical sketches, performed in front of a live audience.

“My comedy is quite immature. If my 14-year-old self knew what I would do with my life, he would be proud,” Steve declares.

There’s a brief pause, and then he says: “I like to be dirty but also with a little bit of heart.”

This explains why he enjoys stories of old people engaging in sexual activity. It doesn’t come from a perverted place, but rather from a place of liberation. There is a certain candid tenderness in what he portrays. It is an aspect of life that is often not discussed any more as humans age, and he manages to discuss it between one chuckle and another. He is not afraid of the unconventional and not about to be stopped by any taboo.   

Steve Hili

Looking back

It all started around a decade ago, when Steve Hili produced a comedy show based on his own sex confessions. It was about growing up in Malta in the nineties, nurtured by a very Catholic family. He is now middle-aged and looks at his youth with one big smile. In fact, he tells us that one of the funniest aspects of youthful sexuality is the very act of being caught. It becomes clear to us that he draws on real-life anecdotes that caused people great discomfort and mortification and showers them with the healing power of laughter.

“I feel this is true to all comedians: their past is what informs them and what they portray. The truth is that many comedians talk about their race, their relationships with parents, and so on,” observes Steve.

As a matter of fact, there is such a thing as ‘relief theory’. In The psychology of humor: An integrative approach, Martin and Ford (2018) state that humour provides relief of tension in the same way in which a hydraulic engine works, with laughter serving the function of a steam pipe pressure valve. In this way, pent-up pressure is relieved through laughter. It doesn’t take much to see that in this case, laughing about each other’s embarrassing sexual situations might even serve as very funny group therapy.

No one gets hurt

This doesn’t come without risks, though. We ask Steve how he manages to ensure that nobody is implicated or hurt by his theatrical representations.

“I hate to punch down. I would never write anything that hurts anyone, or that causes any damage or pain. I would never take on a story that is clearly intended to serve as a tool for someone to get revenge on someone else,” Steve explains. He also makes it a point to not sell tickets to minors, and identity cards are checked at the theatre door.

His acting, dancing, and singing about sex is working, especially among the middle-aged. More than 35.1 per cent of those who responded to his questionnaire were between 36 and 45 years old; 41 per cent were female, 40 per cent were male, and the rest did not respond to that question. A majority of 80 per cent were Maltese and living in Malta, and over 7 per cent lived abroad. The rest were non-Maltese people living in Malta.

Whilst handing out these figures, Steve makes an observation: “Whether you’re a teenager, or a middle-aged or an elderly person … the embarrassment of sex and dating is kind of the same. I find this really sweet. My message is this: everyone has their weirdness in this aspect, and that’s perfectly fine.”

The future is bright for this Maltese comedian, who intends to travel the world with this concept.

“Everyone can relate to it; everyone has a story,” he concludes, as we wish him luck for his future endeavours.

Old people, new tricks!

Here’s one mild anecdote that was submitted by an anonymous member of the audience and re-enacted during his performance.

An elderly lady decided to venture out into the dating world, having found herself single in her mature years.

Much to her delight, she met a gentleman who was in his eighties.

The eager man asked the lady for a very specific sexual favour. The innocent woman had no idea what the term meant. Eager to start off the relationship on a positive note, she went to consult her daughter.

You can imagine the rest.

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