Cerys Bradley: Sportsperson | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Cerys Bradley: Sportsperson

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Cerys Bradley’s Fringe debut is a gently endearing, personal insight into what it’s like to be non-binary and autistic in a world not always designed for either.

The hour is bookended by a story in a pub toilet where the comic was misgendered – but not in a way they usually are. It prompted conflicting emotions: a new burst of anger about why gender should be so aggressively policed in toilets – but a little pride in not being assumed to be what they are not.

Another field ruled by gender is sport, and while Bradley doesn’t consider themself a natural sportsperson – as evidenced by a comically terrible performance in the Ealing half-marathon – they have found acceptance in rugby’s team spirit. At least so far. Giving Sportsperson an unwanted topicality, the RFU ruling body recently announced it would impose stricter gender rules on the sport, which Bradley, and their grassroots team, consider a discriminatory, retrograde step.

It’s typical of the social politics that permeates every aspect of Bradley’s daily existence, with so many small daily obstacles to be negotiated. That’s in contrast to the comic’s brother, who has everything so easy. Bradley’s mum even wants Poster Boy to donate sperm to his sibling, something the comic very much baulks at.

Their frustrations and anger are expressed in a low-key, but gently affecting way, while their autism manifests itself in the inner monologue we are allowed to eavesdrop on, addressing their awkwardness and insecurities in real time.

Their brain wiring, I think, influences other parts of the show. For example, Bradley tells us that they forgot a bit and have to go back and redo it – then explain that even the ‘mistake’ was planned. For us neurotypical viewers, it does seem a lot of faff to get back to where we started.

A modest, but endearing wit permeates the show, with highlights including just how bad the non-binary community is at creating new, non-gendered words. ‘Auncle’, for example, as the ugly portmanteau for a parent’s non-binary sibling.

And in a similarly low-key bit of physical comedy, Bradley brings out a puppet, very much along the lines of Rod Hull’s Emu, to explain the tingling in the uterus they feel near babies.

It’s one of several laugh-out-loud moments in the show, including a great ‘lads, lads, lads’ gag. But it prioritises using the strong personal connection Bradley makes with their audience to make a plea for compassion and understanding over hard-hitting jokes. Not that they should really have to be asking for such basic humanity.

Cerys Bradley: Sportsperson is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot at 4.40pm

Review date: 25 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon Teviot

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