Fringe Dog meets Lucas O'Neil

The canine journalist gets emotional with the American stand-up star

feature (edinburgh) | Read in About 4 minutes
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Lucas O'Neil
Published 22 Aug 2023

dogs have many emotional states between bow-wow and grrr. why have you called your show ‘emotional man’ and what emotions will it explore?

This show dives into all sorts of emotions – happy, angry, annoyed, sneaky, mischievous, pensive, maybe even chagrined, if the mood is right. And I named it Emotional Man because – for one thing – I am one. I’ve always been one to feel things. I wrote a lot of poems growing up is what I’m saying. And so, the show details the making of this Emotional Man (me) and the unraveling and repair of the family that raised him (still me).

I also wanted to be a little cheeky about the idea that being an “emotional” man is some sort of subset of being a man. It’s not! All men are emotional. It’s a myth that they aren’t! I don’t yell this much in the show, but it’s important to say!

i heard you had a sheltered childhood – tell me a little more about your fantastic kennel?

It was a top-of-the-line kennel. A lot of structured time (piano lessons, dance lessons, disciplined walks). The staff (mom, dad, older sister) were very kind. They even let me out in the yard sometimes, but with one of those invisible fences, so I could have the illusion of freedom, but never truly experience it. That last line is a joke, but we did have an invisible fence for our actual dog. Feeling safe, but confined, was something she and I bonded over. So, if you’re going away for the weekend, and you need a place to leave your dog, my family is a great option. But if your dog likes going to parties or staying out past 9pm, then forget it.

Fringe Dog, illustration by Lauren Hunter

i heard you can no longer sit next to your aunty at funerals because you tell too many jokes! does she sit away because she found your humour unfitting, or because you give her the giggles?

This was a mutual giggle-inducement scenario. My aunt and I were taking turns making each other laugh. Unfortunately, we weren’t making my sister laugh. She found our use of humour quite unfitting, and promptly issued this seating ban. In my aunt’s and my defense, we’re both really funny, and the funeral was really sad, so I’m not sure we had much of choice. My aunt and I have appealed the decision, and we hope the family counsel will find a more appropriate compromise. If that means my sister gets to sit next to us so she can have fun, too, so be it.

i must now ask you a question of the utmost importance: do you have a dog?

I do. Her name is Rhuby, which is short for Rhubarb, which is short for Rhubarbara. And I’ll answer what is surely your follow-up question: is she a good dog? Yes. She’s a very good dog. And I know that because I ask her that question 450 times a day, and the results have never varied.

i understand your dad preferred your older sister to you! does your dog share the same prejudice, or are you their number one boy? 

I am their number one boy. And also, if my sister is nearby, my dog will gladly abandon me in a heartbeat. But – and this is important – my dog would also abandon my sister in a heartbeat, if my dad is around – or really, any person at all. Every single person my dog meets is her number one person until she sees the next person. So, she does play favourites, but it is always a tie.