British comedian Susan Calman is currently on tour and will be making a stop off in York as part of the Great Yorkshire Fringe. We posed her a few questions to get a sneak preview of what to expect.
By Jane Howkins
You’re currently on tour with a new show, titled as The Calman Before The Storm. Where did the title come from, and is a specific reference to anything (apart from your name obviously)?
Well I like a pun for a start but it’s also partly a result of practical considerations. I had to choose the title of the show in November 2015, previewed it, took it to the Fringe in August 2016, rewrote it, and started touring in 2017. It’s important that the title of a show gives people an idea of what it’s like, but that it isn’t so specific that the show is inflexible. Over the course of two years it changes and morphs into something quite different. Oh, and I like a pun.
What can you tell us about the show, and what can the audience expect from it? No spoilers please, haha!
It’s my tenth anniversary of becoming a stand up and the show is all about the expectations that people might have of me before they come to the shows. After 10 years, a lot of people think that they know what to expect from me and I like to surprise people occasionally. It’s a fun thing to be able to play with the stereotype of a Radio 4 comedian, or a feminist, or a Scottish person! It’s got some politics in there but not too much, a few stories about cats and lots for people to enjoy (hopefully).
Where do you find material for your show?
I take inspiration from things that have happened to me over the past couple of years, things that happen around me, or news stories that have piqued my interest. I take most of my inspiration from friends and family, and also from the world in general.
You originally trained as a lawyer, which you were rather successful at. We bet that was good for laughs! What was it about comedy that interested you as a career, and why did you decide to change careers?
I’ve always wanted to be a comedian but I didn’t really know what that meant. So I went to university and got a degree in law, qualified and then became a corporate lawyer for 7 years. After my thirtieth birthday, I decided to give comedy a go and did an open spot at a local comedy club. Even though I don’t remember that night, and I was probably awful, I know from the moment I stepped on stage that it was the job for me. I haven’t looked back since.
You’re playing a gig at the Methodist Church in York on 19 May. Is this an area you enjoy playing in? If so, what most appeals to you, and what do you like about the city?
I love playing in York, and have previewed a few shows in venues there. I like the energy of the crowd and the generosity of laughter. It’s one of my favourite places for comedy.
The York gig is part of the Great Yorkshire Fringe. Have you ever performed for the Yorkshire Fringe before, and are you excited?
It’s my first time as part of the Yorkshire Fringe and I’m very excited! Anything that encourages people to get out and watch more live comedy is a brilliant thing.
As it is part of the Great Yorkshire Fringe, will your show be any different in any way from the other ones you’re doing as part of this tour? Will you be catching any of the other shows on for the Fringe?
The show will be the same tour show as the others, but every show on tour is different. How the shows runs depends very much on the audience reaction. I’m afraid I won’t catch any other shows at the Fringe, I have to head to Oxford the next day for another tour show!
We hear that you are going to host a new TV game show called The Boss. What can you tell us about that, and why did you decide you wanted to do that?
The Boss starts on BBC One in April, it’s on daytime TV, and it was great fun to record. I love hosting TV programmes and I love quiz shows, so it’s a perfect match for me! I’d love to do more presenting so fingers crossed people like it and we can make hundreds of episodes!
You’ve starred in a few TV shows, including Fresh Meat, The Dog Ate My Homework, and Dead Boss. How would you say that differs to doing stand-up, and which do you prefer, and why?
I love doing radio and TV but nothing beats performing in front of a live audience. It’s what I started out doing and what I’ll always go back to. It’s the feedback from the audience that makes it special, that connection with people.
Any last words for the fans?
I hope you enjoy the show!
Susan Calman performs at York Methodist Church on Friday 19 May 2017.