A chalice. A rat. A transformation. A castle at night and the echo of blim. A love story. In the darkness we yearn. We yearn for a stand-up comedy show.
I've tried to write shows since She Festers, but they didn't have a strong enough core for me to use them. I'm a very visual creative, even though I mainly work in words, and I need a look and a feel to get the content to fit.
With She Festers, I actually came up with the poster first, my face surrounded by ferns and mushrooms inspired by the work of Jeremy Hirst. The feel was folklore, medieval, fairytale, childlike. I would be a foundling child kidnapped by fairies, rotting under a hill. Colour scheme of parchment, sage green, pink, gold and white- medieval manuscript. The name, She Festers, came about a week later. Not much of the foundling fairytale stuff survived, mostly used in framing and branding than overt content. But it was a feel I could build on.
I've returned to this methodology for the start of this show, and for once I feel secure. This show is deep red, grey, white and black. It is teenage in the way She Festers was child. It is gothic in a cringy way, like if Spiral Clothing was a look. The show will be a gothic novel. It will be about love and repression and all that good gothic stuff. It will have a poster with me in black robes and a misty castle and bloodred font*. Emilie Autumn and the Dresden Dolls and My Chemical Romance. Everything I adored when I was 14 before I started feeling the pressure to be cool within the alternative scene, rather than loving what felt true to me. Before learning facts about bands to pre-empt grilling from men in the subculture, before I felt the need to constantly justify my joy. It is about love without shame.
*I wrote this before I got the photoshoot and stuff done. How'd I do?
Ever since I came out I feel like I've been slowly building myself up again from the real depths I was in for most of lockdown, closeted and living with my ex-boyfriend. I totally abandoned the goth thing in there because it became so prescriptive in my head that I wasn't allowed to deviate from the trad-goth look that I began to hate it. I got overly online and stopped looking for joy within. I'm getting there. This show, Wretched, is an eruption of that.
I want to link to a short story I wrote about a year ago. I'd been having a rough time, it was 3am and I couldn't stop crying. And in desperation, I just sat down and started writing. I wrote Respit with no editing or thinking, just fully stream of consciousness and then I not only was fine but passed out from exhaustion. It's such a weird and true bit of work, something Elizabeth Gilbert would call Big Magic, and it's a major inspiration for a character in this show. It's been published on here for ages, but I was too frightened to tell anyone about it. Here. I'm telling you about it. Please read it, I feel very naked in you seeing it which probably means it's good.
I stopped writing during the pandemic, following a lot of my old hobbies like guitar, clarinet, reading, drawing, painting, running, regular yoga, and modifying and making my own clothes. I only had knitting and video games and endless scrolling on my phone. It made me really miserable being with out it, but without the constant busy-ness I needed to numb and I'm too square to drink so that's what I did. It's a hard habit to drop. This show is about coming back from the fog and grappling blindly for the joy you know is there.
I'm excited for it. The first run-through I did was fun but way too trauma-dumpy. I've realised that my obsessive brain has really latched onto mental health/trauma/self-improvement etc. and that's what the show became, instead of, you know, funny. My agent Susanna gently reminded me that I'm there, to be honest and an artist but I'm also there to make people laugh and to enjoy myself. That's the subject of the show, silly. I don't have to pull my raw beating heart out for the audience, not yet.
In She Festers, everything in that show had been through A LOT of therapy and writing to get it there. The suicide story at the end, which is gag heavy and takes approx 5 minutes, was originally an hour long with crying when I started talking about it. Time and repetition smooths it down, that material was never gruelling or triggering because I'd got it there. Now I'm not at uni, I don't have such easy access to therapy, or as much time- thanks to the pando She Festers had 4 years between initial conception and the debut at the Fringe. I'm 5 months in, 7 months to go at the time of writing. Half way. It's very different.
Don't worry, there will still be depressing bullshit in this show, it's a goth show by a goth comedian. There is no more valid and fitting place for that. And I don't think I can't not do it*.
*Count those negatives**, I think that's about right.
**Me, all the time, constantly lol
I've got two WIPs booked in, Leicester and Glasgow. Please come see if you're close. It's so vulnerable being up there with the new stuff, some of it is really out of my comfort zone and I want a home crowd. Home in that if you're here reading this, you like my stuff, you get me. I'd love to see you there. <3