A Shark Ate My Penis: A History of Boys Like Me

It’s hard to imagine that any show called, in full, A Shark Ate My Penis: A History of Boys Like Me could be weirder or more fun than it sounds. And yet, American musician Laser Webber achieves just that. This is trans history by way of comedy that injects much needed laughter and joy into this difficult moment for trans people.

Shot through with pitch-perfect jokes

Webber works from a combination of his own winding path to transition and the history of American and British trans men described in queer historian Jen Manion’s book Female Husbands, bringing the lightness and humour out of stories which could be cast in a quite different light. His songs span the distance from the absurdity of the pre-transition feeling of being bullied by the mere presence of transmasculine guests at an ex’s wedding to the popular online theory that Billy Joel’s Piano Man takes place in a gay bar to the life of James Howe, an eighteenth-century London man so upstanding he actually did his jury duty.

Focusing on the humour in these tales is not a given – Webber alludes to but does not dwell in the darker parts of his own journey, including the dissolution of a marriage. In another historical example, he all but glosses over the fact that the our information about the earlier “female husbands” comes from newspaper coverage of their criminal trials. But Webber doesn’t want to dwell there. Instead, A Shark Ate My Penis delivers wall-to-wall laughs and focuses on the joy that is inherent in living one’s truth. Even when addressing such hot-button topics as JK Rowling’s anti-trans bigotry head on, Webber kept the audience howling with some of the best material on Rowling I’ve heard that nevertheless rarely crossed into anything resembling mean.

Webber’s songs were reliably hilarious; his projections and time-travel conceit that governed transitions into the historical segments skated by on the enthusiasm of a nearly sold-out crowd. The show was shot through with pitch-perfect jokes, often asides or dramatic prop reveals. The audience was not shy, shouting with laughter and recognition. For anyone, trans or cis, looking to kick off an evening of fun at the Fringe, A Shark Ate My Penis would be a great feel-good start.

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Reviews by Alex Bailey Dillon

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Since you’re here…

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Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Award-winning writer Laser the Boy presents a one-person musical about the history of trans men and his own transition! Meet Alan Hart, the first trans man to get gender-confirming surgery (in 1917!); Samuel Bundy, whose legend includes a shark, a robbery, and 12 girlfriends; and renowned children's author JK Rowling, for reasons. These characters usher Laser through a life of weddings, divorce, lesbianism, and finally, joy. A fantastically delightful, fun, and heartfelt modern musical. It's nice to watch a show not thinking, 'Well, they could have made this gayer.'

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