It's a fact of life that any standup on the Fringe who is neither white nor straight is likely required to spend at least part of their show addressing it. Sam See – working the room in a muggy Attic, immediately gaining some audience traction by offering to lightly spray them with cool water – is no exception. That said, he does appear to understand how being a gay stand-up from Singapore is a definite USP.
There’s real steel in his comedic bones.
Singapore, it turns out, doesn’t really "do" Human Rights that well, famously once described as "Disneyland with the Death Penalty". It's a country where a man, publicly declaring themselves on stage to be homosexual, genuinely risks arrest, imprisonment and large fines. Given how See likes to discuss his sexuality on stage (talk about what you know, right?), he has had to often officially "pretend" he's gay, even though he and everyone watching him knows it's the truth. This may help explain why, on seeing an audience member taking notes, he has to remember they’re a critic, not a government inspector.
Lee comes across as honest, clever and (at the risk of being condescending) endearing. (Sexy too, especially if you like bow-ties.) But that doesn't mean he’s a push-over; there’s real steel in his comedic bones. There has to be: while it may be entertaining to learn about the full reach of police powers in Singapore when it comes to stage magicians, See doesn't shy away from the darker consequences of such laws and social traditions. Yes, he may detour for comedic affect into now "traditional" subjects for an Fringe show (Grindr and dating, for example) but never gratuitously.
Performing comedy, Sam See tells us at one point, genuinely helped him come to terms with being gay, and he's happy that – in turn – being confidently "out" on stage, in LGBT-hostile countries, has helped some audience-members also feel a little bit better about themselves. He's not boasting; it explain what he does. Still, here's hoping growing audiences will discover that there's more to Sam See than "just" being the gay comedian from Singapore.