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A Shark Ate My Penis - Edfringe 2023

We are living in a worryingly polarising moment in society. It’s 2023 and instead of the jetpacks and utopian gender-fluid matriarchal cloud cities we were promised, we seem to be experiencing a roll back on civil rights and the demonisation of particularly vulnerable minorities. The weight of ignorance and bigotry out there can be exhausting. For many, it's dangerous.

It seems to us that joy and compassion are a lot more fun, and take up a lot less energy. When you’re running on hate, that’s a sure fire guarantee that no one is going to want to speak to you at parties. It will also age you terribly. So for the sake of your skincare routine and to keep the energy up for the good fight, let’s try and remember that, in these trying times, joy is an act of rebellion. Especially trans joy. Creativity and a little bit of understanding goes a long way, which is why we were delighted to interview award-winning writer Laser the Boy about his show, A Shark Ate My Penis: A History of Boys Like Me.

Laser presents his one-person musical about the history of trans men and his own transition.

Meet Alan Hart, the first trans man to get gender-confirming surgery (in 1917); Samuel Bundy, whose legend includes a shark, a robbery, and 12 girlfriends; and renowned children's author JK Rowling, for reasons. These characters usher Laser through a life of weddings, divorce, lesbianism, and finally, joy. A fantastically delightful, fun, and heartfelt modern musical.

Can you give us a sneak peek into your show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe? What can audiences expect when they come to see your performance?

Folks can expect something that starts like a stand-up set, hits a sci-fi twist and then mostly is like a musical Ted talk about trans history.

The Edinburgh Fringe is known for its vibrant and diverse atmosphere. What’s your flyering pitch for when you hit the Royal Mile to talk to people about your show?

A shark ate my penis! Based on a true story!

As a performer at the Edinburgh Fringe, what has been the best part of your experience?

I have met so many incredible trans performers and audience members who have really treated me with love and empathy. It feels so wonderful to find my people in a new country.

Your show incorporates issues relevant to the trans experience. Could you share how these themes are woven into the narrative or performance? What inspired you to explore these particular topics? Why is this so important right now?

When some folks first hear about trans folks, they think since it’s “news to them,” it's a new phenomenon. But we’ve been here forever - as long as humans have. The reason I love trans history is because it shows me the possibilities for my own future. There are so many guys like me through history, and they give me hope and inspiration.

Have you encountered any unique challenges or obstacles in the industry? How do you navigate these challenges, and what advice would you give to other trans people pursuing careers in the arts?

Don’t reply to mean comments or emails. Those people are never going to be convinced and they’re not important. Work for yourself. Work for your community. Your job is not to have a “debate” with bullies, it’s to survive and thrive. Trans joy is rebellion.

What do you hope audiences will take away from your show, especially in terms of the themes you are exploring? Is there a specific message or emotion you aim to leave them with?

I want people to learn that their identities belong to them, and they shouldn’t need to fight to exist. You are who you are. No one can take that away from you.

What does the title of our initiative -”Persistent and Nasty” - mean to you? What do those two words together in this context make you think?

People love to tell marginalized folks to shut up, that our existence is inconvenient or annoying. We persist. We get nasty if we have to. “Be gay, do crimes.” Ya know?


Your Edfringe Trans Comedy To-Do List

by Laser the Boy

Trans and non-binary folks are (somewhat unwillingly) very “topical” these days, what with single-sex bathroom bills and all sorts of “gender critical” views getting airtime - but we’re also very funny, very cute, and ALL OVER the Fringe! Here are some recommendations if you want to laugh, learn, empathize with us as we watch the world burn slowly around us.

Terminal the Play — This one-act at Greenside is an absolutely wonderful Zellenial breakdown. Who hasn’t started talking to the automated announcements in the airport? A real, funny, and honestly quite beautiful examination of identity and mental health. Book Here.

Asexuality — This show won the top award at Hollywood Fringe last year, and it’s no wonder. Rebecca McGlynn combines masterful writing (this show is longlisted for the Popcorn Award) with impressive multimedia (who else can sing with themselves, in four-part harmony?) and a story that is funny, heartbreaking, and stunningly real. A must see, whether you are ace, trans, or want to understand those folks better. Book Here.

Cerys Bradley: overthinking Things 2019 — probably the biggest “hidden gem” of this fringe, in my opinion - Cerys Bradley is a masterful stand-up comic whose show about autism, queerness, and their parents’ divorce is somehow both overwhelmingly relatable and constantly surprising. Book Here.

A Shark Ate My Penis — I’m a performer, yes I’m going to plug my own show. Shark is about my journey coming out as a trans man and the trans historical figures who help me along the way. Don’t take my word for it, I’ve gotten 2 5-star reviews and people call me “magnetic” and “trans!” Book Here.

More Trans/Gender Non-Conforming to See:


Introduction and edit by Louise Oliver (Editor, Persistent and Nasty Blog)

Show Details for A Shark Ate My Penis

Date(s): Everyday (22nd - 28th August)

Time: 6pm

Venue: Gilded Balloon (Wee Room)

Twitter: @lasertheboy

Instagram: @lasertheboy

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