Everyone who saw Murder She Didn’t Write last year were chuffed to bits. The Mumble managed a wee blether with one of Bristol Improv Theatre’s finest…
Hello Samantha, & welcome back to the Fringe, how’s your comedy going?
Samantha: Thank you! It’s going good. I’m excited to start work on my new big project about mental health, which includes a new stage show. Since last year I have started my own night ‘Conscious Comedy’ which I’m also bringing to the fringe. I’ve done a few gigs across the country but have had to keep a low profile due to stalking and harassment. I’ve had a lot of grief and trauma the last few years.
Can you tell us about Love Muffin Productions?
Samantha: It’s my social enterprise, baked in 2016 with the help of the new enterprise allowance. Which essentially means, my topless comedy show Sextremist was partly funded thanks to the Tory Government! Our mission statement is to create experiences which bring people together for the purpose of empowerment and the greater good. As well as Sextremist we’ve produced Back 2 Basics, The Men, Sex & Feminism Podcast and now Conscious Comedy. My number 2 in this operation is the wonderful Clare Morgan. She’s been with me since the beginning. I’m Bipolar. So get an access to work grant to pay Clare. Bipolar is a disability, there are things I can’t do as well as neurotypical people, like admin! But I also consider it a blessing. I have a deep compassion for humanity and am very creative. It’s a label I share with some of my comedy heroes Alfie Brown, Russell Brand, also Jim Carrey I read is Bipolar.. According to an article in The Guardian from 2014 us comedians are the most likely profession to be diagnosed. I had to show a judge that article when I had to go to court to get the Personal Independence Payments I was entitled too early in my recovery because a paramedic sent from the private company Capita had decided if could do stand up comedy, and didn’t take meds – I was fine. Cutting off resources which vulnerable individuals need to survive is a human rights abuse!
Well, Sam, lets take a look at the all important question of 2018, on the lips of every comedian, is this: you’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Samantha: First of all, I wouldn’t cook. I can’t. One of them would have to do the cooking, I will do the washing up. (Or just order a takeaway and pretend I cooked.) I would invite Marilyn Monroe, because she was also Bipolar and we generally don’t eat properly anyway. I like nurturing my fellow nutters. Then I would have Joan of Arc, who was psychic, as am I! Then I’d have the Guru OSHO so I could see for myself if he really is the narcissist he was painted as in Wild Wild Country on Netflix. The starter would be Saganaki, which is greek fried cheese. Then for the main we would have chicken tikka madras with garlic fried rice and keema naan. Dessert we’ll have hot chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice cream.
Last year you brought Back To Basics to Edinburgh, how did it go & what did you take from the experience?
Samantha: Despite 3 massive knocks, as well as all the harrassment, it went well. I’m proud of myself. I got my first 4 star review and the show went on to tour with 3 professional bookings and acceptance into the Bath and Leicester comedy festivals. Heartbreakingly, I found out days before the Edinburgh run that my dear friend and supporter Sarah Munro had passed away. She was only 36. Also, I experienced professional betrayal. On the journey up, my director who I had paid £2250 told me she wouldn’t be at the fringe to support me running in the show as she had the year before. I should have had her sign a contract, but she knew what I expected and I trusted her. That really shook my confidence, I felt like she’d duped me. Then I got struck with the flu. All that and I still completed the run. I think that proves my mental stability.
This year you are involved in two projects, including your solo show, Pulling it Together. What’s your show about?
Samantha: It’s about my journey back to sanity after a mental breakdown in 2014, following the death of my Dad. I talk about my fight with public institutions to get my basic needs met as a marginalised member of society. The journey starts, and ends – with the police. My sanity has been truly tested by recent events. This is a story of resilience. I’m writing it for the one in four and those who love us.
How do you feel when you are telling such deeply personal stories & how do you hope the audience will respond?
Samantha: I hope to provoke compassion and empathy within the audience, which is mostly what happens. There were so many hugs after Back 2 Basics and people would tell me their stories. There was an emotional connection. When people come to see me, I feel connected, empowered and heard. My loneliness goes away. I read somewhere once that expression is the antidote to depression. Expressing myself feels enlightening. Connecting with people on the vibration of truth is deeply comforting.
You are also hosting Conscious Comedy for a couple of dates, can you tell us about the concept?
Samantha: It’s a sacred space, not a safe space. I see comedy as a platform for the truth. Not just another bland form of entertainment. In a way, comedy saved me. I like comedy with depth. I believe that great comedy can inspire change.
Who have you got on the line-up?
Samantha: I have got Zahra Barri doing both nights. I’ve been a fan of her work since 2015 when she did a showcase I hosted at the Edinburgh Fringe. She has a very interesting perspective, eastern meets western. Very well structured jokes and adorable as a person too. Also Alex Hylton, he’s very funny and has a warm aura on stage. I’ve seen him on my local circuit, he told me in his show he is talking about gender, identity and social politics. Looking forward to that. Also booked are; Janet Bettesworh, I gigged with her recently on a gig that was originally shut down by censors. She had a very interesting story about Greenham Common. Then there’s Dan Collins, Mags Mchugh, Paul Savage, Pope Lonergan & Alice-India Garwood. If there are any cancellations. I’ve got fellow anarchist Becky Fury on standby. She did a great job hosting the Malcolm Hardy awards last year.
You’ve got 20 seconds to sell both shows to a random on an Edinburgh street. What do you say?
Samantha: For Pulling it Together I will just quote this from my badass bipolar sister, Britney Spears; “People can take everything away from you, but they can never take away your truth but the question is, can you handle mine? They say I’m crazy.” For Conscious Comedy, this is more than jokes. It’s a platform for comedians who have something to say. It’s comedy with a conscience.
What will you be doing after the Fringe?
Samantha: I will continue doing my spiritual work, I’ve been a psychic reader and presenter on Psychic Today, Sky channel 560 for over a year now. I’m also going to continue working on my new mental health project. I plan to launch a new podcast next year along with the finished stage show. Then I’ll be looking at publishing a book. Also my husband and I are planning on moving back in together after a long separation. He’s been my saving grace though all this drama. I’ve got some lovely people in my life. Tough times reveal true friends. Silver linings.
August 2nd & 8th (22.30)
Laughing Horse @ City Cafe
August 2-10 (14.25)