Storyslams are wonderful in part because of their sheer variety. The Big Gay Storyslam sees a handful of queer performers from around the Fringe deliver short sets that are similar in format, but differ wildly in content. A judging panel then decides who gets the prize for the night (you can’t help but feel they missed a trick by not calling the prize the Slam Dunk).
The evening is full of sincere, emotional storytelling laced with good humour. Darcie Silver – the eventual winner – talks frankly about how her life (relationships being a particular focus of hers) is affected by being a transgender woman. She fills her story with glimmers of dark comedy that get the audience laughing at the most unexpected moments. Cath Withersee is the first act of the show and warms the crowd up with a positively charged seven minutes. Withersee talks about growing up and becoming more comfortable with her own identity, from her sexuality to her skin tag. She is followed by Victoria Olsina, who is forced to lament the fact that people in Argentina are so much more beautiful than those in the UK. Sam Morrison delivers a hilarious set about closet dating a professor, perhaps the funniest performer of this particular night. The final act is one of The Big Gay Storyslam’s co-producers, Conor O’Brien, with his story of being raised by a religious cult and dressing up as niche British TV characters.
While the judges busy themselves with deciding the winner, the host for the night tells their own story. Normally the show is hosted by a drag queen, but on this night American comedian Ellen Doyle steps up to the role. Her story is the kind of experience you need to hear to believe – after all, you don’t just accidentally end up working on a porn set, do you? It gets some of the night’s biggest laughs and proves a great way to round off the evening.
The lineup may change every show, but what The Big Gay Storyslam can guarantee every time is a safe space for a show of identity, strength and laughter. Nobody in the audience – including the hecklers – want to take away from the moments that each performer gets on stage. With an atmosphere perfect for sharing stories and good humour, the storyslam proves an invaluable addition to the Fringe variety roster.