Tell us about your show. Why should we go and see it?
Sugar Daddy is about meeting my partner Jonathan, and then my relationship to grief after his passing to COVID in 2021. You should come if you enjoy meaningful, personal comedy. I’ve put my heart and soul into this – I will share how I’ve grown and what I’ve learned from the most tragic thing that’s ever happened to me. Grief, and mortality in general, are so uncomfortable but also ever present that when you finally acknowledge, talk, and joke about it, something really cool happens.
It sounds intense, but it’s mostly just a series of silly, campy stories, and I promise anyone who’s gone through this can tell you, grief is downright hilarious. I challenge you to find a comedian who’s as funny my gay widow support group.
Are you flying solo or are you part of a team?
I’m a stand up comedian, so I’m alone for this Fringe and also, in general, forever. Thanks for asking, jerk.
The big difference between my first time in Edinburgh in 2019 and now is that it was all very scrappy. I was mostly doing it all my own. I was hustling in every which way I could think, but still had no idea what I was doing and always felt a bit behind the 8 ball. This time I’ve got oodles of help! The team at Mick Perrin, Gilded Balloon, and Impressive PR are a dream, and setting me up to have the best run possible. I’ve got so much more confidence headed in this year. It really does take a village.
What are your hopes and dreams for the Fringe?
The thing is, I just started doing grief material to cope. I struggled to talk about my late partner off stage but for some reason was able to on stage. It was a way for me to express my grief in a controlled environment where I have the power. I started to realize it could become a show with some shaping and, at the turn of the year, I decided to make it into my Fringe show.
So, one the one hand, I just want to continue to share Jonathan with others. Any opportunity to talk about him is precious to me. Also to express how unbelievably weird, isolating, and hilarious grief is. I want to create a show I’m proud of, share it with others, and connect on shared experiences.
On the other hand, I was just talking to my therapist today that I care too much about this show receiving critical acclaim, and I think it’s because it’s about Jonathan and I want as many people as possible to recognize and love him. I’m working on sifting through this, but I will say the process of turning such painful trauma into comedy has been long. I bombed with this material for months, but I just knew I had to do it. Writing and performing grief material about my late partner is the thing I’m most proud of accomplishing as a comedian, and I think it’s also my funniest stuff yet. Either way, conquering the fringe will be endlessly gratifying, but it would be great if that were recognized in a way that can push my career forward and help me continue to do this work.
What makes you laugh?
Drag queens. Puppies falling and then immediately getting back up again like nothing happened. Zoolander. My friends when they get too high. Jewish mothers. My own incompetence. My brother and sister. That YouTube channel where they mispronounce words on purpose. People with really weird laughs. People with really weird sneezes. James Acaster.
What is it that made you a performer?
I keep answering this question differently. Please don’t cross check with other interviews. This time I’m going to be a little too honest: I didn’t receive enough love as a child and sought external validation.
Actually, I’m re-reading the question…I think that’s why I did stand up for the first time, what made me into a performer is a different answer: brute force. I was really bad when I started, but I had blinders on and for years did as many open mics as humanely possible. I think some people come into stand up later in life, or just with a very strong sense of self, and are able to quickly understand what makes them funny and unique. I did not have that. I really needed the 10,000 hours, and the fun part is, I’m still growing.
How will your audience think/feel differently after an hour in your company?
Grounded, joyful, emotional. This might sound intense and detract you from coming, but I think But being reminded that we die is necessary to living our life to the fullest. We often forget what is most important in life. I hope people leave this show and want to pour all the love in the world in their partners/families/friends.
Whose show – apart from your own – are you looking forward to seeing at the Edinburgh Fringe?
NYC friend’s Casey Balsham, Gabe Mollica, Ann Chun, Kylie Vincent, Anthony Devito, and Jeena Bloom! My favorites I saw in 2019 I’ll be sure to check out again: Alice Fraser and Tiffany Stevenson!
What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve been given?
I’m not sure but I really connected with this grief quote by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “For the rest of my life, I will live with my hands outstretched for things that are no longer there.”
I promise the show is not as sad as this Q&A!
Do you have a favourite Fringe memory?
Climbing Arthur’s seat on my day off with friends I made the day before!
Who is your showbiz/Fringe idol and why.
My best friend Ashley Gavin, has been the funniest person I know since I started comedy and now has built an entire empire from organically building her own fan base.
Sam Morrison, Sugar Daddy, 18.20, Gilded Balloon, Until August 29