Edinburgh Preview: Joe Sutherland

Very soon after Joe Sutherland took to the stage, it was clear we were in good company: here was someone personable and inclusive, rude and funny with a penchant for great one-liners. For those in the audience concerned that a sixth-former was on stage, Joe confirmed he was rather older than he looked: an astonishing 35 – in another six years. Which means that a marketing department would promote him as a millennial, a term loaded with conveniently narrow stereotyping (same old, same old). Joe had quite the fun with that, along with a ‘millennial’ list of buzzwords and concerns: non-binary gender, gender fluidity, vegan fluidity.

Personable and inclusive, rude and funny with a penchant for great one-liners

In addition, having grown up in the middle of the UK - ‘the furthest point from the sea and quinoa’ - in a community where few men stuck around and where a boy wanting to be a Spice Girl rather than a footballer was a challenge to a ‘natural’ order, ideas about class and masculinity and how we perform and confirm or subvert were also key in Joe’s material. His notion of how class could be classified was particularly amusing. And certain politicians and TV presenters – let’s just say they are icons of masculinity - were scrutinised and rightly ridiculed to good effect.

With millennials getting to the age where they may start living with their partners, Joe, from his own experience, has an original take on the pros and cons of such an endeavour. The audience seemed very sympathetic. He also has original research on how people get ‘me’ time: the research participants are splendidly limited and their responses rather funny.

Joe is smart and has a lot to say. It is appreciated that this was a preview show, a work in progress, and whilst the first half seemed confident and fluid (that word again), the second half of the show seemed less well-formed with weaker delivery and less punch to the lines. The ending, as Joe acknowledged, needed to be more robust. Possibly some of the material was too well-worn for good use, specifically the evidence that Spice Girl Thatcher cannot be considered a feminist icon seemed more well-rehearsed facts than funny.

But as said, a work in progress (aren’t we all). With some tweaking, no doubt twerking, this should be a show that we’d all really, really want.

Reviews by Jonna Brett

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The Blurb

Joe Sutherland: ToxicMasculinity – isn’t it, like, over? Or are there new ways to model manliness? Growing up Joe felt less like a boy, more like a Spice Girl. Now he’s sort of grown up, and technically a man. This is a show about embracing girl power to create your own brand of manhood.

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