We caught up with Finland’s most beloved queer comedian (despite being Canadian), James Lorien MacDonald, to find out more on what to expect for his upcoming Fringe show at The Marlborough, on the 8th and 9th May.
Jamies show, Gender Euphoria, was selected from over a hundred applications to be a part of Brighton Fringe’s Finnish Season, showcasing the “refreshingly different perspective” of artists and companies from Finland. Gender Euphoria was also selected as one of the ten performances in Brighton Fringe’s Arts Industry showcase WINDOW, “a platform for high quality, ready to tour, new work”.
Buy Tickets for Gender Euphoria here
Can you tell us a little bit about your show, what can we expect?
Gender Euphoria is basically an hour of stand-up and confessional. To be honest it’s never been the same show twice because I am very prone to improvisations and having epiphanies on stage and blurting them out – which at least keeps the show feeling fresh. I started my own gender transition, medically at least, about 3 years ago. A lot of what I do is sort of processing the change from thinking that being trans is something weird and extreme, to something that is just another expression of human belonging and self-recognition. Along the way, I’ve run into so many situations and people that bring into sharp focus the way that our world has really been bifurcated along these gender lines, which might feel “natural”, but they’re far more wobbly than we imagine. Also I tell dirty stories.
Who would enjoy seeing your show?
A lot of my audiences are trans people and questioning people, and people who have those sorts of people in their lives, because they want to see something of their own experience put up on a stage, and that’s great. But I kind of consider myself a gateway drug for cisgender, hetero folks – through me they may glimpse queerness! I mean, I used to think I was cisgender and hetero myself, and I’ve had to understand all kinds of things to get where I am now, so I understand their viewpoint.
What has been the best advice you have been given?
“Life is just one big projection party” – my mom, on understanding the motivations of others.
What do you think audiences will enjoy the most about your show?
I think people will be genuinely surprised at how much they relate. Listening to a 40-year-old re-experiencing puberty is a hell of a trip.
What does your work aim to address?
I love inconsistencies and cognitive dissonances. I love the stories and lies that we tell ourselves to get through the day, and I especially love poking holes in those. A lot of Gender Euphoria is poking at a binary-oriented society, but I’m definitely poking at myself just as much.
Who are your biggest influences?
This will be obvious, but my first comedy love will always be Eddie Izzard. I also think there’s a smattering of Simon Amstell, Tig Notaro, and Stewart Lee in there. I realise I’ve just set myself up to be incredibly meta and also a bit absurd, and I think I’m okay with that.
Why did you decide to perform your show at the Brighton Fringe?
I’ve never performed in the UK before, and Brighton Fringe seemed like a great place to start. Brighton has a queer-friendly reputation to start with, and all the other Finnish artists are going to Edinburgh to do their first UK show so I obviously have to do something different.
What else are you excited about getting up to in Brighton?
I am so stoked to see other peoples’ shows! In the Nordics we are known to produce fish products of varying degrees of decrepitude, and furniture of a high standard – not so much stand-up comedy. Our scene is great but small, so I’m just looking forward to seeing a great variety of acts.