By Kishore Thiagarajan
Ahead of her debut solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe this August, Durham alumna Stevie Martin, part of the famed comedy sketch group Massive Dad, sat down with indigo to share her memories of her time at Durham, and anticipations of the Fringe.
Hi Stevie, thanks so much for sitting down with us here at indigo. We thought we would start the interview by asking if you could first introduce yourself by telling us what you studied at Durham?
Stevie Martin: I did English Literature and went to John’s.
What were some of your most memorable moments whilst at Durham?
I got dared to run naked around Palace Green and ran into my Introduction to Novel tutor. I also turned up to a bar crawl – where the theme was “Christians” – dresses as a nun, and everybody else was dressed up because it wasn’t themed, it was the actual Christian Union and they thought i was taking the piss out of them (See above about me going to John’s) (I loved it by the way, and when I explained they were fine) (Look, some of my very good friends are Christians OK).
What was the comedy scene like when you were at Durham? How involved were you?
I was a member of The Durham Revue for two years, so I was fairly heavily involved. It was the best fun ever and the Fringe was carnage.
Ahead of August, how does it feel to be making your solo debut at the Fringe?
I can’t stop going to the toilet. That’s got nothing to do with the question. I just wanted to tell someone. But yes, I’m excited and nervous and I’ve bought £250 worth of props that yesterday I cut from the show. If anyone wants a fishing rod, give them my details.
You’ve titled your solo show ‘Vol. 1’ – is this the first to come of many future solo ventures?
I went for the most vague title ever in case I wanted to switch it from sketch and character to French Vaudeville at the last minute. There’s still time.
Solo versus group comedy: what are the biggest differences?
After you’ve done a good show there’s nobody to celebrate with so I go to Nando’s a lot on my own.
You’re performing at one of the most prestigious Fringe venues for comedy – The Pleasance Courtyard – talk to us about your relationship with the venue.
They produced my sketch group, Massive Dad, for years so when I went solo I did their excellent comedy night ‘Hub’ in front of the Pleasance Head of Comedy and asked if he could produce me as a solo act. When he said yes I was so relieved and had seven Nando’s.
So far you’ve worked with Channel 4, BBC Three, Comedy Central, and ITV2 – what’s next for you?
To be honest I’d be pretty annoyed if after all this I don’t get a Nando’s Black Card. Some more fun TV projects to work on would be good too.
What’s your experience working as a female comedian in a, largely, male dominated industry?
There are loads of women in comedy now. So, it’s alright!
Finally, for any budding comedians at Durham, what advice might you offer?
If, like me, you aren’t super rich and can’t just start taking shows to the Edinburgh Fringe immediately, do another job you like (I chose journalism but other comedians I know were waitresses, teachers, lawyers etc before they quit to go full time) and do it on the side. Also listen to my podcast ‘Nobody Panic’ – me and Tessa from Massive Dad do it and it’s all about how to navigate your 20’s. Might be helpful!
The Nobody Panic podcast is available to download on Acast and iTunes.
Stevie Martin: Vol 1 is at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August. Tickets available at www.edfringe.com
Photograph: Idil Sukan