LADIES WHO LAUGH
Teddy Jamieson meets four women comedians lighting up the Fringe
MONDAY morning after the first weekend of the Fringe. There will be hangovers. Surely? Actually, no. At 11am four comedians troop into the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian in Edinburgh bright-eyed and alcohol-free.
“I’m Irish so I drink every day,” says Catherine Bohart, “but I’m performing so I’ve not had any more than three drinks any given evening, which I think makes me a hero.”
“If you had asked me 10 years ago, probably about 50,” admits Ingrid Oliver when asked about her intake of units of alcohol so far, “but genuinely I had one glass of wine in the first week. I’ve grown up. It’s really boring. I’m going to have to go out at some point.”
Not right now though. This morning there’s just coffee and croissants and conversation.
Here’s the deal. We’ve got four comedians together, one each from Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland to talk about the Fringe and to ask stupid questions. You know the kind of thing. Does comedy have a nationality? Is the patriarchy still a thing? And what’s the best service station in Britain? (Jo Caulfield has the right answer. It’s Tebay.)
But where are our manners? Some introductions. From the left we have Bohart, 29, from Dublin, who is on her third Fringe. Jay Lafferty is from Greenock. This is her 13th year in Edinburgh, but it’s her first solo show. She ran out of excuses for not going it alone, she says.
Londoner Oliver is best known as one half of comedy duo Watson and Oliver with Lorna Watson, but this year she is flying solo with a scripted character show called Speech! (“It’s very different. I miss having other people around,” she admits.)
And Caulfield is here to represent Wales, although she grew up in England, has Northern Irish parents and now lives in Leith and so could pinch-hit for all four home nations. “But in football I always support Wales,” she says. Which is good enough for us.
Everything is going fine for all four this Fringe. So far. But it’s early and there are no guarantees in stand-up. That, they say, is the fun of it.
“You can have a great gig, feel like a god, get on the Tube and wonder why everyone doesn’t know who you are,” says Bohart. “And the next day you can die on your hole and that’s my favourite thing about it.”
It was Bertolt Brecht, of course, who once said: “He who laughs last has not yet heard the bad news.” But really that kind of attitude isn’t going to get you a 10-minute slot at the Pleasance.
So shall we get started? JAY LAFFERTY: “Funny is funny no matter where you’re from. A lot of people when I’m flyering say: ‘Oh, I don’t want to come in case I don’t understand you.’ “I say: ‘Do you understand me just now?’ “They’re like: ‘Yeah.’ “‘Well, you’ll understand me then.’”