Like Salem Barrett-Brown says, trans is very trendy at the moment, occupying a disproportionate amount of news and media attention in Australia. But what’s it like to be one of these illusive transpeople, battling the same late capitalist hell-scape as the normies but with the nation’s concentrated hatred to boot? Open Dyke Night invites a few marginalised identities to weigh in.
Structured like a typical comedy open mic night, Open Dyke Night sees host Barrett-Brown opening and introducing each performer (played by Barrett-Brown) with stand-up bits before their range of slam poetry, sketches, and lap dancing performances. The stand-up covers many bases of Barrett-Brown’s identity including being a non-binary trans person, polyamory, mental illness, and their narcissism with a casual, conversational tone that is open and easy to connect to. Jokes flow freely with the majority queer, sex-positive, and young audience quick to relate to the cynical, existential attitude of the show.
The guest performances incorporated varying angles on millennial concerns including mistaking a trash can for a cis-man or calling out unnamed sex pests in the Sydney comedy community. Others were more educational from a trans-masc guest illustrating how to be a man to another guest with a PowerPoint demonstration about the best ways to flirt with women. This guest demonstrated an unexpected but impressive skill for lap dancing, especially in sky-high stiletto boots, which wowed the audience and one lucky participant.
A stand-out from the line-up was an elongated slam poem, delivered more like a monologue, that considered Barrett-Brown’s experience of mining their identity for notoriety and the way marginalised people have become uniquely marketable because of the lack of adequate representation. This isn’t a particularly humorous topic, Barrett-Brown injects some self-deprecation for laughs, but it’s a phenomenon many young people have encountered when looking to get a break in media or entertainment industries and it’s certainly something worthy of the articulate interrogation it’s given here.
If you’re a queer person, polyamorous, mentally ill, or just generally getting along in this here world, Open Dyke Night offers camaraderie and an opportunity to get humorously self-reflective. Or, if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about transpeople all of a sudden, Barrett-Brown lifts the veil to reveal it’s really not that big of a deal; there are much better reasons to hate a person.
Open Dyke Night is running at the Factory Theatre from September 18th – 22nd as part of the Sydney Fringe Comedy Festival