EdFringe 2022 Review: ‘Joseph Parsons: Equaliser’

If stereotypes are to be believed, Joseph Parsons is something of a rare breed. He’s a gay man who loves sport – something immediately apparent as we enter the stand-up’s Mash House set and see him adorned in the shirt of his favourite football team, Bristol City. Joseph delves into his amusing observations about the world of sport with an infectious high energy charm, resulting in a delightful hour of astute comedy.

Joseph is a welcoming presence, spending his opening moments introducing himself to the audience and getting a sense of the crowd that have assembled to see him. Some gentle questioning about sports teams and sexual preferences reveal an audience mixed with sports fans and some members of LGBTQ community – showing some crossover on that potential Venn diagram. The performer shares the title Equaliser draws from the sporting term and the idea of equality yet he observes ‘Bent Like Beckham’ may have been a more on-the-nose title.

The performer soon delves into observations about the strangeness of the world of sports including the ridiculousness of curling, the modern pentathlon (complete with unwilling horses), and the stereotypical image of the football fan all come under fire – the latter wonderfully encapsulated in a fantastic comic story about loutish fans, Swindon and the Megabus. Observations about tennis commentators (and listening to tennis on the radio) and the passion of an Italian sports commentator provide some big laughs.

The comedy of Equaliser really impresses as it is coming from a place of genuine passion. Joseph’s enthusiasm for the world of sport is contagious, with the comedy even likely to hit home for those aloof to sport, the comedian selling it to the utmost degree. How could one not be charmed by Joseph’s construction of a sexy darts player calendar – complete with visual accompaniment? A comic investigation into the surprisingly queer world of football songs including an eroticised reading of World In Motion highlights a fusion of sporting history and ridiculous camp.

Joseph takes the comedy on a slightly more personal note delving into his fear of urinals and public nudity, the former shining as a narrative thread that meets an amusingly poignant conclusion in Joseph’s story about attending the Euros, truly open about his sexuality and adorned in a huge Pride flag. Joseph captures the inherent fears that many LGBTQ+ people have regarding the hyper-masculine world of sporting, yet does a truly impressive job deconstructing this world and finding the humour in it throughout.

Interestingly, we’ve featured Joseph on the site for his music before with the stand-up releasing an impressive album in 2020, and Equaliser also showcases some of that musicality. Utilising the fist shaped design of The World Cup, Joseph ends this hour of stand-up with his own comic football anthem bringing Equaliser to a celebratory finale.

Equaliser is a sheer treat as Joseph charmingly draws us into the surprisingly amusing world of sport. Showcasing a skill as a comic storyteller, Joseph delivers a powerhouse high-energy set packed with strong punchlines and shrewd humorous musings.

Joseph Parsons – Equaliser runs until August 28th at Just the Tonic at the Mash House. Get your tickets here.

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