Our trusty Edinburgh Fringe correspondent speaks with Rabiah Coon
BY KELLI DUNHAM, IMAGE BY EMILY PAYNE
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.
Nomad Performer and No Accounting for Fashion
I’m a less than five-foot tall masculine person with a tiny head (I buy hats made for literal babies), small shoulders, and zero sense of fashion.
Because of this, I am accustomed to wardrobe difficulties. But this fringe, I thought “summer” meant something like warmth, even in Edinburgh’s perpetually chilly embrace. My bad.
Thus, if you search for extra small men’s jumpers or long-sleeved shirts in the charity shops immediately surrounding the festival area, you will be entirely and sadly out of luck.
And because I’m wearing whatever is available in charity shops, I am often clad in button-up Oxford shirts. One emcee at a late-night cabaret compilation show sized me up, then introduced me with, “This is Kelli, and they’re…going to make jokes about accountancy, I guess?”
That moment clarified my whole existence during this fringe. It’s a mix of bewildering and oddly comforting.
In much of regular life in the US, I’m a bit of a queer oddball.
In Edinburgh in August, I’m an accountant.
Speaking of mismatched outfits and mistaken identities (which we were, although not particularly relevant to this interview), I talked to Rabiah Coon with just the tiniest bit of jealousy in my heart about the experience of fringing without one’s own show to promote.
What are you doing at the Fringe?
I didn’t bring a show up this year but wanted to be here to support friends, enjoy being a fan in the audience of shows and to do open spots on compilation gigs. It is a great chance to see and do more comedy in a week or two than I can in two months or more in London.
What’s the most interesting/bananas/depressing thing you’ve done/are going to try to get butts in seats?
I think the most interesting thing was flyering for my friend David Ian who is doing a solo show, and just talking to people about why I’m out there for him specifically and why I think they should support him, too. It is sometimes nice to reflect on how important someone is to you and to be able to share that. He ended up with a nice audience and nice reviews that night!
What would you be doing this August if you were not doing this?
I would be gigging in London and maybe stressing about finding a bringer!
What are you enjoying most/enjoying least about your experience thus far?
The most enjoyable thing is seeing how people’s shows have come together. I’m so proud of my friends. The least enjoyable thing is noticing some bigotry when flyering for certain gigs, particularly LGBTQIA ones. I don’t experience this much in my personal life and proudly flier for queer friends but I am saddened by some reactions to a piece of paper.
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