Bittersweet debuts at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this month
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE BY STEVE ULLATHORNE
With 401.6K followers and 7 million likes on TikTok, @sugarcoatedsisters incorporate music and comedy into their work. Tabby and Chloe are real-life sisters, and both being bisexual and disabled, discuss the taboos that come with both these topics. Tabby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 10 years ago at 17, whilst Chloe lives with bipolar type 2, diagnosed relatively late at 26. Their first-ever show, Sugarcoated Sisters: Bittersweet is debuting at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this month, so we chatted everything from using comedy to avenge men to the future of LGBTQI representation in comic circles.
DIVA: How did you get into comedy? Was it one experience or a prolonged feeling that it was something you wanted to embark on together?
Chloe: Tabby was always super funny, even as a toddler. I also wrote a funny musical when I was 13 that we put on at our school, with Tabby in the starring role. Seeing as we are real sisters, comedy was part of our lives and a core factor of our relationship for our whole lives. We are extremely grateful that this is how things panned out!
DIVA: Sugarcoated Sisters: Bittersweet is debuting at Edinburgh Fringe this month. Could you tell me a little about it?
Both: Sugarcoated Sisters: Bittersweet is our debut show and we have poured our heart and soul into it. It’s a raunchy, raucous, and VERY rude musical comedy extravaganza. Chloe’s on guitar, Tabby’s on double bass, and together, we’re bringing sweet musical revenge to everyone who’s ever wronged us.
DIVA: Tabby – you live with type one diabetes (I have type one, too!). Do you channel this into your content at all? What has your experience with type one been like and how, if at all, does it influence your work?
Tabby: I was diagnosed at 17, just as I was auditioning for drama school and about to take my A-levels. I was incredibly thirsty, my skin got really dry, I lost weight suddenly and my eyes started going blurry. I initially thought it was because I was stressed and tired and dancing a lot at college. I went to my GP, and she told me I couldn’t have a blood test as I was clearly just a teenage girl trying to skive school. I went back a few days later and a nurse listened to me and gave me a blood test. Six days later, I was slipping in and out of consciousness and the doctor rang my mum and said ‘Where is your daughter? She needs to go to hospital immediately!’ I’ll never forget the moment a nurse tested my urine – I had gone into ketoacidosis with dangerously high blood glucose.
I was in hospital a week and then sent home with an entirely new existential sense of being in total control of my life. I was so weak I couldn’t even inject myself for a while – my mum had to do it for me. 10 years later, I have an incredible Dexcom continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump. It influences the way I create because for the first time, my illness is more visible that it used to be and I no longer feel shame about having a medical condition. I am now unapologetically diabetic.
DIVA: Chloe – you have bipolar type 2. How, if at all, do your experiences with this play into your content?
Chloe: I was exceedingly creative as a child, and I had written two full musicals by the time I was 18. I used to wake up regularly in the middle of the night, having written a whole song in my dreams, with all the harmonies and instrumentation. In hindsight, I think it is likely that there was some mild hypomanic energy fuelling my unbridled creativity.
My bipolar began to cause some serious problems for me throughout my late teens and twenties, and although I had exhibited many of the symptoms for years, I was not diagnosed until I was 26. As difficult as it is, it is well known that creativity often comes easily to people with bipolar. When I’m debilitatingly low, my mind and emotions are sensitive in a way that makes me see the world from a different perspective. And I do often channel the pain I feel in these moments into my creative work. And then, when I’m hypomanic, I sometimes feel all the atoms in my body buzzing and can see patterns and connections between concepts that I would not think up in a stable state of mind. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t know anyone else who had it, so I like to tell people about it in our comedy content.
DIVA: You also both identify as bisexual, which is amazing! How do you use your sexuality to inform your comedy?
Both: Much of our comedy so far has been inspired by the in-built power imbalance in our heteronormative relationships and the inevitably tragi-comic outcomes that can occur. And so far, the men we have dated have caused us a lot more harm than the women we have dated. We have both taken a serious look in the mirror recently at how we ‘show up’ in our romantic relationships. And we’ve both stayed single on purpose for over a year and a half now to take stock and reflect on what we want for our future. In any case, we are massively excited to proudly embrace our bisexuality on the stage and beyond.
DIVA: What power do you think comedy holds to represent LGBTQI people? What is the current representation of LGBTQI people in comedy like – how could it improve?
Both: LGBTQI comedy is so important! There is nothing like watching a performance, wholly relating to it and crying with laughter at the same time. Historically, the amount of straight, white, male comics out there compared to everyone else is a joke (a not very funny one). However, we are sensing a big shift in the comedy scene and judging by the incredible work of LGBTQI comics we have seen in the last few years and the audience reaction, we are feeling hopeful that change is coming.
Sugarcoated Sisters make their debut with Bittersweet at the Just The Tonic Caves – Fancy Room at 8.50pm from 4th – 28th August. For tickets, go to www.edfringe.com.
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