John Pendal: Monster

Whether there was only six or 600 of us, John Pendal performed with everything he had.

John Pendal: Monster

John Pendal was locked and loaded with giant, embarrassing childhood photos, cute cat pics and his very own shame-o-meter, which in case you don't know, are all the makings of a fabulous show.

Monster tells John's story: an autistic comedian, with a love of 3ft wide men, his therapist Abigail and a healthy amount of self loathing.

Whilst up on stage, John took the audience on a journey all over the emotional spectrum. He incited laughter when he shared with the audience his questionable fashion choices of Daisy Duke shorts, mullets and impersonating Sting at his first Pride Parade. "Hey it was 90's, nothing else was available."

He incited horror when he told the audience he had been subjected to seven years of gay conversion therapy – how is that even still legal – at the hands of the church. The twisted part of the story was that they were his only friends who then, in the truest biblical fashion, washed their hands of him when they realised he couldn't be "fixed".

He made me question the entirety of the past few years that consent was the solution to all of human relationships. John said he went willingly to gay conversion therapy, he also willingly practiced fellatio on an impractically endowed man, but both events still ended up on his shame-o-meter and add to the reason why he's seeing a therapist. Consent can only be one side of the coin insists John and I think anyone who has ever felt any kind of shame or guilt, at the hands of themselves or others, would agree with him as well.

If I had to summarise the show in one word, it's not a particularly sexy word, but I would say Monster was 'necessary'.

Mental health issues get a lot of the spotlight, yes, but what John is doing in my opinion is closing the gap between those with mental health issues and everyone else.

I myself do not suffer from autism or any mental health issues that I am aware of but I could relate to so much of what John was saying it is as if we had written the show together. I'm not sure whether that was his intention for Monster but it certainly is my biggest takeaway.

That is not to diminish those with mental health issues but knowing that regardless of whether we are diagnosed, or just a sucker for keeping to rules and strict guidelines (one of John's autistic traits), we can all relate to each other, one way or another, which should surely help reduce the stigma that those with mental health issues are faced with?

John has a way of connecting with the audience. He speaks about his life in such a manner that he really makes you, well feel. In this narcissist culture we live in, getting people who have no stake, no real investment in your struggle is an achievement all on its own.

Monster is playing at The Turret at The Gilded Balloon Teviot all month until the 26th August, except on the 16th as John will be at the sex workshop where he teaches, as he was the 2003 "International Mr Leather" champion. John Pendal everyone.

Header Image Credit: Steve Ullathorne


Saskia Calliste

Saskia Calliste Voice Team

Saskia is the Deputy Editor of Voice and has worked on campaigns such as International Women’s Day, Black History Month, and Anti-Bullying Week. Outside of Voice, Saskia is a published author (Hairvolution) and has guest featured in various other publications (The Women Writers’ Handbook/ Cosmopolitan/ The Highlight). She has a BA in Creative Writing and Journalism and an MA in Publishing. She is a mentor for Women of the World Global, has guest lectured at the University of Roehampton and has led seminars/panel talks on Race, Equality and Diversity. She was a 2022 Guest Judge for Dave (TV Channel) in search of the 'Joke of the Fringe'. She is 27-years-old, based in London, and loves to cook and explore new places in her spare time.

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