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Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Jordan Gray at Assembly George Square review

Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Jordan Gray at Assembly George Square review


transgender solo performer has never won the Edinburgh Comedy Award. After four decades, that could all change this year. Jordan Gray is one of the contenders for the prestigious £10,000 prize, sponsored by the Dave channel, to be handed out this Saturday.

Her show is cannily called Is It A Bird? which references the gender issue and also nods to a superhero theme that runs through the performance. How, Gray asks as she swaggers around, is it easier for some people to accept Bruce Wayne identifying as a flying creature in Batman than it is to accept Gray identifying as a woman?

The Southend-based musical comedian oozes star power from every pore, from the cheeky opening when she claims she has never touched a keyboard before but will have a go, to the big finish after a quick costume change in the onstage phone box which we dare not reveal, except to say that Clark Kent never did this. In between she struts into every nook and cranny of the intimate venue as if it is a flat she has just bought and is keen to get her money’s worth.

Dylan Woodley

The songs are jaunty, jolly and touching, with catchy Tim Minchin-esque melodies and lyrical twists, covering topics from religion to sexual politics. She improvises and is quick to fill in the gaps when there is a technical hitch. She has plenty of tools at her disposal in every sense. As she jokes to a couple in the front row, “between my top half and my bottom half I have something for both of you – I’m like a sexual Swiss army knife.”

Serious moments punctuate the vaudevillian levity that, like her piled-high hair, evokes early Russell Brand. On the subject of some people’s attitudes to gender fluidity Gray has the perfect response: “If I’m going to be a joke, I might as well be in on it.” Most of the time the emphasis is on playfulness, such as when she explains that her wife is expecting a baby before delivering a pay-off that is not the one the audience expects.

This is easily one of the most entertaining shows at the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe this year. The standing ovation at the end was for the electrifying performance as much as the sentiments.

But the sentiments could not be more relevant. Gray, who appeared on The Voice back in 2016, sends out an important message about inclusivity. Is It A Bird? might feel lightweight at times, but the lightness probably helps to get that message across. A show full of instant laughs yet also moments that will linger long in the memory.

Assembly George Square, to August 28;

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