I think this is the favourite interview question I have ever had. Interviewer: “You are very brave bringing a show about Britishness and being middle class to Edinburgh. Because there is a lot of hatred towards the English. Are you not worried?” Me: “No. I am extremely English and therefore extremely self-loathing. We can bond in hatred. It’s the perfect match.” Bring it on!
(Pic on title page: Matt Crockett.)
This is my last programme at the Independent Bath Literature Festival (10 days, 150 events, 20,000 audience), where I’ve been Artistic Director for the past three Festivals. It’s a job I love and I couldn’t sum up this year’s programme better than blogger Claire Hayes, one of our army of 200 volunteers:
“This year marks the festival’s 21st birthday, and – just in case the impossibly hip might consider it over the hill – is defiantly themed Forever Young. And, despite appearances from luminaries like Pat Barker, Sebastian Faulks and Tracy Chevalier, this means Viv Groskop, in her final year as Artistic Director, has resisted the lure of the literary pipe and slippers in favour of a record number of emerging new writers.”
To help us celebrate our 21st we have a great cast: from Gloria Steinem (with Jenni Murray), Sebastian Faulks and Pub Landlord Al Murray in The Forum to Pat Barker, Joan Bakewell, Austentatious and The Shakespeare Gala (featuring Salon Collective and Extempore Theatre, the world’s only Elizabethan-language improvised play) in The Guildhall. Full programme (26 Feb to 6 Mar) here.
I have only ever had weird experiences aboard the Blundabus belonging to comedy legend Bob Slayer. So I can only imagine that doing a one-hour show aboard this vehicle will be even stranger. The bus is as it sounds: it is a bus. A double decker bus. The upstairs is converted into a comedy bus with seating and a stage area. (Yes, you do have to use your imagination a bit. And I will have to stoop. For the audience it is very comfortable, I can report.)
I will be performing the last not-in-London show of 2015′s Edinburgh show Say Sorry to the Lady at the Nottingham Comedy Festival at 6pm on Saturday 14 November on the top deck of this bus. I’ve done stand-up on the bus and I’ve been a guest on Irish comedian Christian Talbot’s addictive show Cheaper than Therapy on the bus. This time I will have the bus all to myself for a whole show. Well, hopefully, not quite all to myself. Tickets here. Review of the Edinburgh show here. See you there, people of Nottingham who want to come to comedy on a bus! I have every faith this is an actual demographic.
Two London previews of my Edinburgh show Say Sorry to the Lady coming up on Monday 13 July and Tuesday 14 July at Leicester Square Theatre Lounge (the downstairs bit) at 7pm.
Tickets are £3 and you can reserve them HERE. I really want to pack these previews out so please do come and bring all your friends!
SAY SORRY TO THE LADY is all about the Great British cult of apology. Why do we say sorry when we don’t really mean it? Why don’t we say what we’re really thinking? And can it really be true that the average Brit apologises – according to one survey — 1.9 million times in their life.
In a show based on her experiences as a parent, daughter, feminist, self-consciously middle class person and reformed serial apologiser, Viv Groskop argues that enough is enough: it’s time to say sorry to the lady once and for all. And this time you had better mean it.
** WARNING: includes ranting about being a reluctant authority figure to children and then lots of apologies for the ranting. **
“Viv is brilliant” – Jo Brand.
“My favourite new act” – Lucy Porter.
“Fresh and exciting” – Sara Pascoe.
“Groskop positively sparkles” - BroadwayBaby.com
Thrilled to be appearing at The Forum at Royal Tunbridge Wells on Thurs 18 June at 7.30pm. I’m performing a preview of Say Sorry to the Lady as a fundraiser for the Royal Tunbridge Wells Labour Party. I am astonished that (a) there is a branch of the Labour Party in Tunbridge Wells and (b) that anyone who is a Labour supporter would consider that Tunbridge Wells is a good place for them to live. But I guess I will find out the answer to these strange discrepancies.
I am really touched by the number of people who have agreed to host previews, knowing only that I’m putting together a show “about the great British cult of apology.” It has been fascinating going up and down the country with my little bits of paper, asking people what they want to apologise for and who they would most like to see apologise. I have a pretty good idea that the good folk of the Tunbridge Wells Labour Party will have plenty to say on this topic. In fact it might be difficult to shut them up. I look forward to trying.
It’s the Edinburgh Edinburgh preview! No, that is not a typo. It is the preview of my Edinburgh show which is happening in actual Edinburgh. It’s a double bill: me and the astonishing Tony Law. He’s great. Just look at his lovely little face. Thanks to Time Out for their shout-outs — we’re their pick of Things To Do in Edinburgh in June (well, we’re No. 8 of 37 things): “Law is an energetic whirlwind of barmy bizarrity, while journalist and comic Groskop brings a welcome, feminist slant to the occupation.” Elsewhere they urge punters to “be gentle” with us. This seems unnecessary. Tickets are selling fast and they’re dirt cheap (£1 if you’re a member of The Stand) so come along and be as gentle or as rough as you like. Maybe I will regret saying that.
Today is the official launch of the 2015 Edinburgh programme. I’m thrilled to be bringing my new show — my debut stand-up hour — to Stand 4. The show is SAY SORRY TO THE LADY and it’s all about the Great British cult of apology. Why do we say sorry when we don’t really mean it? Why don’t we say what we’re really thinking? And can it really be true that the average Brit apologises – according to one survey — 1.9 million times in their life. More news of previews coming soon. Edinburgh with Tony Law is on June 30. Bristol is on July 9. Latitude is on July 17.
Pics by Idil Sukan/Draw HQ.
Courtesy of www.40winks.org
At the moment I’m in the process of doing lots of Edinburgh previews under the radar all over the country, with the kind help of the Women’s Institute, who are hosting a lot of gigs for me. (Tough crowd, tough crowd…) More news of London previews soon — to come in July…
But *the* major London preview is on 17 June at 40Winks in E1 (Stepney) — pictured above — in the most glamorous surroundings imaginable. It’s the “most beautiful small hotel in the world”, according to German Vogue. And I would not argue with them. This will be the first polished metropolitan outing of my new show Say Sorry to the Lady and it’s a special evening with cocktails and food galore. Plus: you are supposed to wear pyjamas. Seriously. More info here or you can message them direct to reserve or with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Really excited about this one. WHAT WILL I WEAR? I have no idea.
Speaking at this week’s Bath Literature Festival, David Nicholls gave an interesting response to a cheeky question about chick lit, commercial vs literary writing and whether some women novelists miss out on critical acclaim. Here’s the transcript of that part of the conversation:
Me: I want to ask you a slightly mean question. It’s a question about your work which really has nothing to do with you. But I’m very interested to know your views on it. And it’s this: There are a lot of women novelists who feel very overlooked and would love to have your success and who think that if you were “Davina Nicholls” you would not have had the success that you’ve had.
So I’m not sure how you’re supposed to answer that. But I wonder… Seeing that Us was Booker-longlisted and I was very sorry that it didn’t make the Booker shortlist and I felt strongly that it should have done… There are a lot of women writers who would say that there is no way that if a love story like that had been written by a woman that it would be on the Booker longlist. And it would be called chick lit.
DAVID NICHOLLS: I’m torn. The first thing to say is to say that Karen Joy Fowler was shortlisted for the Booker and that is a family drama. But at the same time I don’t want to disagree that there’s a kind of snobbery about books that are about love and relationships and family. I mean, I think that is absolutely the case. I think there are exceptions like Anne Tyler who writes about family relationships and is absolutely critically acclaimed. And AM Homes or Lorrie Moore. They are all writing books that are about relationships and family…
Me: They are all American…
DN: Yes, that’s true. I suppose the distinction is between literary and popular and where you fall on that scale. I suppose the reason… I mean, I haven’t dodged this issue… But I’m perhaps not the best person to answer this because I’m not the best judge of where I fall on that scale. And I think it’s very unhealthy for writers to try and place themselves on that scale.
I certainly think there are a lot of great authors. I mean, the writing of Marian Keyes… If you read the books — which I have — they’re absolutely tough. About mental illness and depression and drug abuse. Or someone like Jojo Moyes — a brilliant writer and books that are discreetly but absolutely political. So I would be inclined to agree [that women are overlooked].
But for me this gets difficult. Because I have read articles that seem to say that I am fantastically over-rated. [Extensive audience laughter]. Which might be true. But it’s not necessarily something that I want to be told. [More laughter.]
I just want to say that, yes, they have a point [that women can be overlooked].
Me: I think that’s a very sensible answer.
DN: I don’t think I have answered it. But I wanted to try and answer it because I think there’s a lot to be said. But it involves classifying and rating myself in a way that would be ridiculous.
Me: It’s not your fight.
DN: No. But a lot of the writers we’re talking about are friends of mine so I’m trying to be bold.
More on this exchange here.
Now booking for next year: Leicester Comedy Festival (left) — my new show Say Sorry to the Lady — Sunday Feb 15:
Meanwhile… Just a few shows left to go before Christmas… I’m at Scotch Egg impro with People People on Wed 10 Dec at The Alma in Stoke Newington. On Sun 14 Dec see People People at City Impro at The Water Poet at 5.30pm and at the Free Association at The De Beauvoir Arms in N1 from 8pm.
The last Dead Parrot Society is on Fri Dec 19 at The Anglers in Teddington from 8pm with a fantastic bill, including Joe Jacobs. He was just in the finals of JW3′s Jewish Comedian of the Year which I was judging last weekend and I like him a lot.