Our Edinburgh Fringe correspondent speaks with the legendary Sian Davies


This is part of a three-week nearly everyday series wherein polyamorous ex-nun nurse nonbinary queer comedian Kelli Dunham explores all the queermost edges of The Edinburgh Fringe, performs her own hilarious and hopefully hopeful show, annoys and confuses people with her gender, and drags you along for the ride. 

Day 16: Jumbled Gender and Crying French Kids 

Whenever someone gets noticeably and loudly confused about whether I’m a boy or girl, I often think, “No worries, friend, that makes two of us.”

But Edinburgh in August?

I’m peacefully and utterly unremarkable. 

Every street corner is occupied by – for example – a drag queen riding a doubledecker unicycle while juggling chainsaws.

No one double-takes a middle-aged queer who appears to be (in the recent words of a suit-clad man on the NYC subway) “a cross between down on his luck McAuley Caulkin and Scrappy Doo.”

No one except a tiny French kid who was overwhelmed with gender panic on the 35 bus yesterday and beseeched his mom: “Fille ou garcon?” Over. And over. And over. Curiously, she wasn’t shushing him, the traditional intervention for Small Child Large Gender Confusion Situations.  

She probably assumed that any given American tromping outside the US, knocking strangers over with their unwieldy rucksack, would be extremely unlikely to speak any language other than English.

This is reasonable.  

Except he was also pointing. 

Speaking of gender roles and identity (come on now, we almost were) I chatted with the legendary Sian Davies about all things Sian at Fringe. 

What are you doing this year? 

My solo show, This Charming Man, is a comedy about gender identity and The Smiths. I’m also running two compilation shows, Best In Class, which is a platform for working-class comedians, and Comedy Queers, an LGBTQIA showcase.

Who likes This Charming Man?  

Anyone who wants to feel some Queer Joy, fans of The Smiths, queer kids, anyone who grew up questioning the societal expectation of gender roles, or their own gender identity, anyone who wants to know what actual lesbians think about trans people and anyone who loves 90s and 00s pop bangers.

What motivated you to write it? 

Growing up, all of my heroes and role models were men, and I wanted to explore this. Did I like the boys’ things because I felt like a boy? Or was it because boys had better storylines, and I identified more as a main character than a supporting artist? I’m also interested in the structures that allow us to separate the art from the artists and where individuals draw their lines.

What would you be doing this August if you were not doing this? 

Mowing the lawn and tinkering about with bits of wood in the shed, I expect.

What are you enjoying most about your experience thus far? 

Last year I broke my ankle two weeks before the fringe, so I’m enjoying being much more mobile this year. I had to adapt my show and most of my plans last year after the injury. It’s nice to be on two legs again and be able to get about the Edinburgh cobbles with ease!

Does your family like this particular show? 

My family hasn’t seen this show – but they do feature in it! I always find myself drawing on experiences from my childhood when I write, so my aunties and cousins often end up in my jokes.

If you were a fish, what kind would you want to be? 

Battered cod with chippy chips.

See Sian (Twitter or Instagram) in This Charming Man, 15:45 2-27th August, Assembly the Box. 

DIVA magazine celebrates 29 years in print in 2023. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQIA media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable. 

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