IT is possibly not a truth universally acknowledged that grief is, as Sam Morrison contends, “so funny”. Perhaps, for some, the death of your partner may not be the kind of thing that would lead you to stand up in front of an audience and find humour in the situation.
Morrison, however, is ready to do just that in his new show Sugar Daddy. And we can be thankful that he is.
Sugar Daddy is Morrison’s second Edinburgh show and it feels like a bold one. He has in the past described himself as “an anxious gay diabetic Jew from Florida currently residing in New York City” and most of these bullet points are covered at some point in the show. If you want jokes about insulin, Jewish circumcision, and the prominence of “bears” in gay culture (and Morrison’s fantasies), you can fill up here.
But at its heart Sugar Daddy sees Morrison dealing with the death from Covid of his partner Jonathan last year.
That’s “dealing with” in the present tense. There are moments in the course of Sugar Daddy when it’s clear that Morrison is feeling the emotions that he’s talking about.
And yet this is also a smartly structured, thoughtfully arranged set that nimbly jumps back and forth in time and in tone and is not scared to go high and low looking for laughs.
In short, if you’re prudish, best steer clear. Some of it is proper filth. But clever with it.
Not all the references land perhaps, but Morrison is light on his feet and alert to the room. And if at times the concept feels a little squeezed in the time frame of a Fringe show, he carries us with him as he travels from the bedroom to a Covid intensive care ward.
There’s plenty of stagecraft on show here. And Morrison can camp it up when required to sell a line. But there’s also heart behind the art.
And then there are moments when the laughter stops.
Talking about trauma is helpful, Morrison argues. Not a necessarily very British attitude, you might feel. But here we are. So, in conclusion, is grief funny? Sugar Daddy provides pretty decent evidence that it might well be the case.
Sam Morrison: Sugar Daddy is on at the Gilded Balloon Teviot – Balcony, August 4-14, 16-21 and 23-29.