Sam See: Government-Approved Sex | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
review star review star review star review half star review blank star

Sam See: Government-Approved Sex

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Being forced to ply his trade in a small attic room of The Counting House is no impediment to Sam See, who brings the full force of his charm and charisma to every show he plays. 

The offensive begins with free branded fans and condoms for all his guests, and the rapport-building is under way before you know it. By the time the show actually starts we’re all under the spell of this jolly elfin figure in a bow tie and square glasses. Dropped into these dingy surroundings, he seems like a refugee from a cleaner, friendlier, more prepossessing universe.

But See isn’t from a parallel universe, he’s from Singapore, which is not the easiest place to be in the public eye if you’re an out gay man like him. Homosexuality is still criminalised there, and talking about it can get you prosecuted for spreading ‘homosexual propaganda’.

So it’s for obvious reasons that See’s orientation remains a private matter in his home country, and perhaps an understandable mistake that the Singaporean government hired him to present a series of panels on sex and love at the National Library. His job would be to add levity to the findings of sex experts and help answer any questions that hadn’t been covered by the country’s minimal sex education provision.

His show skilfully weaves this story in with several others, most notably his twist-filled relationship with the wealthy Chinese doctor nicknamed Blonde John. He’s describing his own experiences as ‘the reluctant Mayor of Poundtown’ but also delving into some statistical analysis and coming up with some interesting findings about which demographics are having sex, who with and how frequently; how kinky are they and how do they feel about it? 

It borders on educational at times, when he’s tracing the origins of BDSM back to the pre-Christian era, but also when telling us how to go about losing your virginity at 14 in a Singaporean all-boys school. 

The show is nicely constructed, with several last-minute revelations and lessons, although See is keen to stress that we shouldn’t be seeking life advice from Edinburgh shows. 

Ultimately, the jokes aren’t going to crack anyone’s brain in half, but See carries it on smart storytelling and star quality. Quick-witted, warm and winning with clear mainstream appeal, he’d be a panel show magnet if he ever set up shop in the UK.

• Sam See: Government-Approved Sex is on at Laughing Horse @ The Counting House at 7.30pm 

Review date: 17 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Tim Harding
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ The Counting House

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.