Comedy Review: Sarah Keyworth: Pacific Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), Edinburgh

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At a time when most male comedians are doing their best to distance themselves from toxic masculinity, Sarah Keyworth continues to be seduced by the idea of being a big, strong, emotionally repressed boy.


That’s because, as someone who only belatedly found her sexuality, she’s always really struggled with her identity.

With her attractiveness apparently linked to the length of her hair, she evokes some memorable visual imagery of the consequences of her new, boyish cut.

As the beer-drinking footballer in her lesbian relationship, she’s ostensibly the “husband”.

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But a break-in at her flat and her inability to protect her girlfriend spirals her confusion.

And though she’s more like her father than her mother, it’s only inasmuch as she’s the indulged, house-trained one rather than the strong-willed partner who knows her own mind.

Keyworth makes some compelling points about culturally prescribed gender roles, homophobia, transphobia and emotional and physical strength. And there’s a salutary lesson in identifying sexual harassment, even when it cloaks itself in an apparently unlikely form.

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But she deftly frames these arguments in solidly funny, relatable routines, taking such heavily worked, stand-up clichés as the “friendzone” and the differences between cats and dogs and giving them a queer spin to render them original.

Moreover, for all her avowed uncertainty and naivety, she’s hilarious with a filthy quip when the opportunity presents, indiscreet when she appreciates that she’s got a tremendous, loving anecdote about her mother’s breast cancer.

At the vanguard of society’s rapidly shifting gender revolution, a small woman who remains hopelessly committed to the idea that she’s a big, unreconstructed man, Keyworth is a thoughtful, sensitive but instinctively self-mocking guide.

Exceeding the promise of last year’s best newcomer nominated debut, who’s a big boy now then?

Until 25 August. Today 5:45pm

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