Review: Fucking Stephen Harper – Ten Foot Pole Productions

By Michelle Barker

A man’s memories of sexually assaulting the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada return to the stage after a successful run in the 2009 Toronto Fringe

Trust me when I say I do not need to explain the premise of this one-man show. No hidden agenda here; Rob Salerno stands on stage with nothing but a stool beside him and a powerpoint presentation behind him. Exactly as the title suggests, Salerno has stopped by Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto on his “book tour” for his latest work, Fucking Stephen Harper, the story of how he sexually assaulted Prime Minister Stephen Harper while attempting to secure an interview. In much the same way that the producers of Jersey Boys couldn’t lose in a society full of baby boomers, Salerno picked a topic that has piqued the interest of theatre-goers all over Toronto: attacking our Prime Minister about issues facing the queer community.

My dear friend Alex and I took a trip to the theatre after a long day of rehearsals. The show, running at about 60 minutes in length, is full of well-researched political humour, pertaining almost entirely to the Conservative party and their treatment of (or rather, lack of attention to) queer issues. Never shying away from the crude jokes and blatant sexual references that stem from the memoir’s title, Salerno has to be applauded for still coming off as a well-educated university graduate and political journalist.

As Alex and I left Buddies in Bad Times theatre, we both admitted that we would have enjoyed the show a lot more if we were more aware of Canadian politics. However, Salerno was quite successful at making his subject matter attainable and hilarious to his audience. He was also able to cleverly insert some cringe-worthy quotes and facts about Canada’s current political state that were shocking to hear.

Admittedly, I could have gone my whole life without hearing about Stephen Harper’s genitalia . . . but you win some, you lose some.

Salerno finishes off the night with a couple of important points: 1. No one should “fuck with the queer community . . . at least not without a safeword” and 2. Salerno did not, in fact, have sex with the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada. Just to clarify.

This is scheduled to be Salerno’s last performance of Fucking Stephen Harper in Toronto, but if you can catch it elsewhere, it’s worth a watch.

Photo of Rob Salerno by Jenna Wakani