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Review: Sam See: Government Approved Sex (King's Head Theatre)

Review by Harry Bower


When the Singapore government commissioned a comedian to write about sex education for television back in 2020, someone somewhere must have guessed it might end up as a stand-up show at some point. Now, Sam See brings his witty learnings and razor-sharp observations to the King’s Head Theatre as part of their Queer Futures season, programme by David Cummings.


The house opens with the performer stood in the space, welcoming people, in a somewhat awkward but gently endearing fashion. A microphone and a projector screen are all that accompany the pint of beer on the stage. By Sam’s own admission, Government Approved Sex is not a traditional stand-up show with one bloke, a microphone, and some jokes thrown in. Instead, this is more like a comedy lecture, though with none of the stuffiness or boredom you might associate with that word.



The structure of the performance is very clever. Sam talks the audience through his time creating content for the Government-commissioned work, and his research and observations about sex and love. Slides are presented revealing the five love languages, and audience members are invited to participate in a Price is Right style higher or lower guessing game about the average age of virginity lost around the world. I love it when reviewers are accidentally chosen for the interaction (I wasn’t far off with my guessing). These facts and figures are really the bedrock which underpin the comedy, and act as grounding. They’re also genuinely interesting, which adds a whole different layer to the performance. By weaving the five love languages between different stages of a story of Sam’s own experience, meeting and falling for Blonde John in Singapore, he adds the deep feeling and emotion required to elevate a comedy routine.


Great observational comedy is relatable, and with the topic of sex, See has struck gold. The hour-long routine is performed with the precision of someone who knows this material inside out, and has honed the timing perfectly. Every self-deprecating joke lands to a reception which ranges from content chuckle to unhinged belly laugh, the performer earning every decibel with his unwavering commitment to this unusual blend of confidence and vulnerability. Despite the audience and space being intimate, See connects with everyone. Queer representation in the piece is exists woven into the fabric of the routine.



This was an hour of very funny comedy with some education and creative storytelling thrown in, by a comedian I am now desperate to see again. It is wonderfully crafted, seamless in its playful blurring of lines between fact and joke. Performer and routine are one, with boundless energy perpetually driving the piece forward to its not altogether predictable ending. Government Approved Sex is back at the King’s Head on 21 July, before an Edinburgh Fringe run. When Sam See makes the move to London in 2024 I will be at the front of the queue to buy tickets for that first gig, and you should be too.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Government Approved Sex plays at The King’s Head Theatre until Friday 21 July. For more information and tickets visit: https://kingsheadtheatre.com/whats-on/sam-see-government-approved-sex


To find out more about David Cummings’ Queer Futures Season, visit: https://kingsheadtheatre.com/news-blog/david-cumming-announces-queer-futures-season


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