Sarah Keyworth: 'I'd like to be big and strong and emotionless'

This article is from 2019

Sarah Keyworth: 'I'd like to be big and strong and emotionless'

Sarah Keyworth is back with another show which tries to unpick gender roles and help set society free

With her show title conceived as a way to wind up her father, who deplores it when someone says 'Pacific' when they mean 'specific', Sarah Keyworth's latest Fringe hour has inadvertently become a follow-up to last year's Best Newcomer-nominated debut.

'Yeah, I didn't mean to,' she admits. 'I thought to myself "I'm just going to do a funny show". And classic Keyworth, I started going on about gender again.'

Inconceivably marking a decade of performing at the festival, following a succession of theatrical forays that she dismisses, the 26-year-old comic is exploring 'strength and masculinity, my relationship with both of those things and the fact I've had to accept recently that I'm a small woman. When actually I like to walk around thinking I'm a big boy.'

More so than last year's Dark Horse, which was 'about the limitations put on women and girls when there's quite clearly a right and wrong answer', Keyworth says that Pacific is more complex. 'It has a lot to do with perceptions of gendered roles especially in relationships and the kind of culture we're now trying to unpick of men supposedly being big, strong and emotionless.'

In a relationship with fellow comic Catherine Bohart, witness the pair's recent Roast Battle on Comedy Central to see Keyworth drop to one knee and propose, not to mention vaunt those much self-maligned acting skills. 'I was nervous so it came across as emotion. When actually I was worried about getting it wrong.' But it's also an example of how, in spite of herself, she's internalised a masculine role. 'Why am I not resisting it?' she wonders. 'I'd like to be big and strong and emotionless, regardless of how unhealthy those things are, regardless of how such expectations of men are toxic and harmful. I still look at them and think "I'd quite like that!"'

Intriguingly, she maintains that her dad is strong and capable. 'But he's not like a big, masculine bloke and my parents' relationship is not "man does this, woman does that". So the biggest example of a successful relationship in my life does not adhere to stereotypes. Yet somehow, I've managed to be completely influenced by them.'

Sarah Keyworth: Pacific, Pleasance Courtyard, 3–25 Aug (not 13), 5.45pm, £9–£11 (£8–£10). Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug, £7.

Sarah Keyworth: Pacific

The Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee considers the small stuff in her latest hour.