Toxic is a collection of laugh-out-loud stories from Joe Sutherland’s life in Coventry, London and (briefly) a town in France which, when pieced together, create an intimately honest portrait of his complex relationship with the expectations placed on ‘being a man’ in the 21st century. With last year’s run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival nabbing Joe a spot on the Telegraph’s ‘Best One Liners of the Fringe 2017’, tonight was a well-anticipated preview of his brand new material: and it is looking fabulous.
An act who is gifted with a saucy confidence that tints every sentence a shade of blue
Armed with death-defying cheekbones and sky-high striped trousers, Sutherland makes a statement the second he walks into the room. The energy is immediately friendly, verging on foxy: hiding a razor sharp wit under his floppy fringe, this is an act who is gifted with a saucy confidence that tints every sentence a shade of blue. Whether it’s millennial guilt or the menu at Wetherspoons, there is the lurking anticipation that every story is going to link back to the type of sensational one-liner that would make your granny blush, and rarely are we disappointed.
The now-familiar millennial stereotype is one of entitlement and introspection, a feature that Sutherland is quick to acknowledge and embrace as he brands himself a ‘peak millennial’. It’s a delicate balance throughout the show between playful jibes and self-deprecating humour that certainly pays off, discussing the best places for a secret cry alongside the double standards of “manliness’’ that necessitate such a private space in the first place.
If I had to be nit-picky about tonight, it would be matter of timing. Sutherland reaches a particularly touching moment, which he endearingly refers to as the ‘heavier’ part of the show, with little time to spare for giving the material the unpacking that it deserved. Until this point, the set felt more like a flirtation with masculinity than a clinical examination, and I was ready for each story to lead somewhere that never quite seemed to arrive. That being said, perhaps you don’t need to know where you’re going when the journey itself is so much fun.