David Ian - I got death threats from my flatmates after losing my virginity

James Macfarlane chats with stand-up comedian David Ian about his debut Fringe show (Just a) Perfect Gay, queer role models and just what it means to be 'a perfect gay'.

David Ian! How are you?

James, I am amazing! I am so excited to be taking my show to the Edinburgh Fringe. But I’m also equal parts exhausted and terrified. I think if that wasn’t the emotions and feelings you were going through then there would be something wrong with you!

So, for those of us who aren’t familiar with you, how would you describe yourself?

Well I’m a stand up comedian, actor, writer & producer and in my comedy I talk about stories that relate to my life as a mid 30s gay man, which is surprisingly relatable! It’s probably also important for your readers to know I’m unbelievably attractive, look good in anything and occasionally lie… I present the podcast Mediocre Gay and I’m one of the founders of The Queer Comedy Club which is the UK’s very first permanent LGBTQ+ stand up comedy club. Oh and I’m Executive Producer and star of a new TV show coming out on OUTtv globally in 2024 called Live at The Queer Comedy Club.

You’re making your Edinburgh debut this year with your show (Just a) Perfect Gay. What can audiences expect from this show?

Well firstly they can expect lots of laughs. It IS stand up comedy after all! But it’s a show with a real heart to it along with the funny bits. I take you on a journey through my life to look at why I’m so obsessed with being the perfect gay. Basically when I lost my virginity at university. I got a death threat from my flat mates and it seems to have set off something in me where I became obsessed with thinking that if I was going to be gay I had to be the best at being gay - I mean my life had been threatened over it so might as well go all in! So that bit sounds heavy… but let’s face it… after all these years I can look back at it and laugh!

I think if you have ever felt like what you’re doing isn’t good enough, you’ve ever felt slightly on the outside or that you don’t know what everyone else is doing then this show is for you. If you are a gay person, or you know a gay person then this show is for you. If you’re the parent of an LGBTQ+ child then this show is for you. If you hate gay people then this show is for you… no wait, actually that’s probably the one group of people who it’s not for… unless they want to come along and get tips on the death threats I guess?

Was a run at the Edinburgh Fringe something that was always on your radar?

Oh 100% yes it was always on my radar. For as long as I can remember I’ve been performing. When I was a child I was a member of a really wonderful drama group and they took shows up the the Edinburgh Fringe every single year. I used to find hearing about the shows and the festival just utterly captivating and engaging. The stories that you heard from the older kids who got to go were just great. I unfortunately never got the chance to go as I left before I was old enough to be allowed to go but since then it has remained as personal goal of mine.

Of course being a stand up it’s one of those goals that you just really want to meet as well. Being in such a creative atmosphere with a load of other performers and especially a load of other funny people - there is just nothing more exciting. And all off that is before you factor in that Edinburgh is a wonderful city with a really great atmosphere anyway…even before half the world descends on it!

The show is a very personal story, one that a lot of young queer people might be able to relate to. Did you have any queer people that you looked up to as you began realising more about your sexuality?

This is such an interesting question. I’m 37 - which means that my entire school career was during Section 28 - a law that made the promotion and discussion of homosexuality in schools illegal. This actually meant it was hard to find any role models in your every day life and on TV in the 90s and early 2000s representation was very limited.

In the show I talk about the first gay person I ever become aware of, his name was Craig, he was a little bit older than me and he was essentially the ‘only gay in our town’. I have no idea how he had the strength to be who he was at a time like that but I just admired him so much from afar. I talk about him a bit in the show because I think he was a key role model for me growing up, even though I don’t think I ever really spoke to him and he would probably be completely unaware how inspirational he was…and still is to be honest.

This is one of the reasons why I think it’s so important to be visible as a queer person - I want kids to be able to look and see so much representation that they know they can be themselves. It’s a wonderful gift and one I think you can only really understand when you’ve not had good representation in the past.

What’s the one thing in your show that you’re most proud of?

The honesty to be honest. I think it would be easier to do a show that wasn’t quite so open and honest about so much of my life, but taking this route and writing something so personal and so honest means that the show really feels like something I want to say, a story I want to tell and makes it feel more worthwhile to me. That doesn’t mean it’s easy but it does make it worthwhile!

Thanks so much for speaking to me! Finally, do you have any shows that you’re excited to see when you’re in Edinburgh?

Kate Dale: Up To Scratch - I can’t wait to see as I’ve been involved in directing that show and I’m very excited to see how audiences react and Gail Porter: Hung Drawn & Portered looks to me like it will be SO interesting, I can’t wait to see that. Gail is a queer icon and her story telling is so engaging that will be a real treat.

Related Listings

David Ian: (Just a) Perfect Gay

David Ian: (Just a) Perfect Gay

Growing up gay in small town, 90s Kent, it is easy to think your sexuality is the reason you don’t fit in. 

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