As far as Glasgow comedian Julia Sutherland is concerned, dads have it easy. Mother to a young boy, Sutherland strives her hardest to keep up with immaculately presented domestic goddesses she encounters in the school playground (the ‘spotty mac mums’, as she calls them). Meanwhile, when she asks her son what his favourite thing is about his father, the answer is that Daddy is, well, ‘a little bit silly.’
Such is the setup for an hour of enjoyably self-effacing tales, Sutherland covering everything from failed baking to successful Star Wars costumes – all of them in the name of proving she’s the best parent she can be; all of them somehow going awry.
A natural storyteller, Sutherland works the intimate surroundings of The Stand to perfection, drawing in the crowd until they almost feel like they’ve lived it. And with more than one segue into the realms of public nudity – first in front of colleagues and then, later, hotel employees – that can leave you almost wanting to hide your face (or other parts) behind your hands; especially when Sutherland reminds us that she has family members in the room! Call it embarrassment by proxy.
Yet just like when you exchange cringe-worthy memories with a friend, the prevailing atmosphere is always one of good-natured sympathy, the laughs proving as cathartic as they are hearty. Comedy of this sort puts audience and performer on the same level, each taking comfort in the fact that we’ve probably all had some pretty daft moments. What marks Sutherland out, however, is her ability to roll with it, making the conversion from private calamity to communal hilarity look effortless.
As she moves toward her finale, a bold yet fearless attempt at a Glaswegian-tinged country sing-along, one can’t help but feel it’s shame that Sutherland is only performing one day at the Fringe this year. Yet a single show is enough to win her at least one accolade: if good dads are just ‘a little bit’ silly, then Sutherland must surely qualify as one of the best.