On April 25, Peterson Toscano will bring his performance, “Everything is Connected — An Evening of Stories,” to the University of Georgia chapel. His comedic performance will cover LGBTQ issues, faith, justice and climate change.
Toscano is a comedian from Central Pennsylvania who uses comedy to approach serious issues. His start into comedy is a little comedic itself, since he originally wanted to be a serious actor.
“I really wanted to be a serious actor, but whenever I went to auditions I would always get cast in comedic roles,” Toscano said. “I then realized I could take on serious issues with comedy.”
Toscano’s comedy shows include subjects from a variety of issues that are currently under debate in today’s society.
“I include LGBTQ issues, including my own failed attempt at gay conversion therapy,” Toscano said. “I tell Bible stories with a queer eye, and I look at climate change as a human rights issue.”
For Toscano, discussing serious issues in a comedic light helps his audience be more open to discussion. However, he says that he has to be careful in the manner that it is done so as not to make serious issues into a joke.
“Comedy does a couple of important things,” Toscano said. “It physically relaxes us and helps to get rid of anxieties we have about certain topics, making us more open-minded.”
Toscano says that his audiences range in beliefs but he is always surprised by the positive reactions he receives. He says he tries to make his shows a space where everyone can feel free to communicate and to respectfully discuss important issues.
“My audiences range from being very liberal to very conservative and I’m always unbelievably surprised,” Toscano said. “I have never had a very negative reaction from my audience.”
Toscano got in touch with Sustain at UGA when they saw his performance at a sustainability event and really enjoyed it. He wants to bring UGA students together to come out, laugh and be entertained while also learning about issues facing the country today.
His performance will take place from 7-8 p.m. at the UGA chapel on Wednesday, April 25, and the event is free. He will also lead a free discussion during a casual luncheon on April 24 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m in The Intersection, Tate II. He will also host a free discussion about storytelling techniques on the same day from 5-6 p.m. in the Fine Arts Building Room 352.
“Some conversations are hard to have,” Toscano said. “But I would like to create a space free from shame, guilt and fear so we can all discuss these pressing issues.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Toscano's first name as Peter, not Peterson.