Edinburgh Festivals Magazine

Review: Tom Rosenthal – Manhood at Pleasance Two

Review: Tom Rosenthal - Manhood at Pleasance Two

Tom Rosenthal doesn’t have a foreskin. This really concerns him, and he really wants you to know all about it. Tom welcomes us to his TedTalk and this is truly what Manhood is – a one-hour dissemination of the hotly-debated world of male circumcision.

The audience absolutely adores Tom, and he receives rapturous applause when he comes out like a child mid-sugar rush, dancing with impressive gold shoes. Tom maintains this energy throughout and it’s a mystery who felt he needed a microphone to be heard; his voice soars through the crowd. We are fed the story of his obsession with his foreskin with the aid of clips of his TV appearances, colourful penis diagrams or discussions with Canadian specialists on male circumcision. As Tom says, he may not be the funniest comedian but he is the best researched.

His engagement with the audience pays off: he doesn’t pander to them, instead, starting a genuine dialogue with them – especially when he reveals his manhood: a silk ‘dressing gown’ for his circumcised penis. Ever been in a biology lesson with an over-excited teacher? This feels pretty close.

This set was genuinely very interesting at times and, to Tom’s credit, very well researched. His use of visual aids was fantastic and helped to liven up parts of his narrative that could have fallen totally flat. Tom Rosenthal is a funny guy but it’s apparent that maybe the reason he doesn’t do stand-up very often is because his humour shines best in his acting. This was a very energetic set filled with a fair few laughs but while packed with really interesting perspectives on the long-lasting psychological damage of male circumcision, the jokes felt a bit like a 14-year old boy’s impression of the subject matter.

Tom Rosenthal: Manhood, Pleasance Two, until 25 Aug, 6.30pm