Please do not be alarmed by this enormous picture. What can I say? It’s a big show with big dreams.
My new Edinburgh show Vivalicious is currently previewing all over the place and booking at Underbelly Med Quad for Edinburgh Fringe 1-26 August (13 Aug off) at 4.10pm opens this weekend here: http://www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk.
The theme? Being your best self in preparation for the coming era of President Oprah Winfrey. Is there ever really a point to self-improvement or is it time for us (ie. me) to accept that we are all a bit rubbish and we (ie. I) quite like it that way?
BRIGHTON FRINGE: 11, 12, 25, 26 May, 1, 2 June 8pm, The Claremont Hove. Tickets here.
TWICKENHAM: 23 MAY at The Exchange. Tickets here.
BRISTOL: 30 MAY at White Rabbit Bristol. See here.
CATFORD FRINGE FESTIVAL: 5 JUNE at Broadway Theatre. Tickets here.
BIRMINGHAM: 7 JUNE at The Hexagon. Tickets here.
KINGSTON: 29 JUNE at Crack Comedy. Tickets here.
BARNES: 5 JULY at OSO Arts. Tickets here.
CENTRAL LONDON: Museum of Comedy: 9, 10, 24, 25 JULY. Press preview 10 July. (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for press tickets.) All at 7pm except 24 July at 8.30pm. Tickets here.
GUILDFORD: 17 JULY at The Star Inn. Tickets here.
TEDDINGTON: 12 JULY at The Anglers. Tickets here.
FROME, SOMERSET: 14 JULY at The Merlin Theatre. Tickets here.
So thrilled to get this interview with Kseniya Sobchak, Russia’s female presidential candidate, for today’s G2 in the Guardian. Did I work out whether she’s a stooge or the real deal? I wish. Thanks to Pushkin House (where I’m a trustee) and to Owen Matthews of The Spectator who made this interview happen.
“When your country’s leader is both very similar to an oligarch and used to be a member of the security services, it’s easy to see people might get confused. But Vladimir Putin is not Russia and Russia is not Putin. As Mikhail Zygar, formerly the editor of Russia’s only independent TV channel, Dozhd, wrote last week, Putin is part of a state-sponsored project to establish him as “a unique historical leader of Russia – able to unite fervent advocates of the Communist-era Soviet Union with those who dream of Russia’s pre-revolutionary empire, built on Orthodox Christianity”. That is a mission that involves extreme cognitive dissonance. And that kind of rewriting of history depends on finding as many common causes and common enemies as possible.”
The nice people at BBC1’s This Week had the crazyass idea of making me be WONDERWOMAN to mark International Women’s Day. Personally I think this was an insult to Lynda Carter and hotpant fans everywhere but I embraced the challenge. After a great deal of wrangling and BBC protocol it was finally decreed that I was allowed to keep the costume afterwards. Result.
The Anna Karenina Fix is coming out in paperback in the UK on June 7. Click here to pre-order. There’s an event at Waterstones Gower Street on Friday 8 June at 6.30pm. Details soon. Here’s the Guardian’s review of the book: “This is the first time I’ve seen Tolstoy described as ‘Oprah Winfrey with a beard.'”
The good people at This Week (presented by Andrew Neil, on after Question Time, watched by people who have just got back from the pub and are too tired to go to bed) decided that it would be a good idea to get me to present the week’s news dressed as Cinderella, whilst performing household chores. Hashtag: feminism. You can decide for yourself whether it was in fact an actual good idea by watching it here. On the plus side, there are cartoon birdies.
Thanks to everyone who has reviewed The Anna Karenina Fix, especially on Amazon and Goodreads. All authors hate the idea of being reviewed but the fact of being reviewed is what sells books… Thanks also to all the literature festivals who have hosted this autumn, especially Folkestone who were the last stop on the tour (pictured here). More events coming in 2018.
(Pics: Ben Bowles)
Books of the Year: The Spectator, The Observer, The Times, The Sunday Telegraph
“Funny, clever and joyful. I loved this book.” — Nina Stibbe, best-selling author of Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life
“Everyone’s happiness project looks different, and for Viv Groskop, reading great works of Russian literature held the key to a happier life. In this hilarious, candid, and thought-provoking memoir, she explains how she used lessons from Russian classics to understand herself better and to create the life she wanted.” — Gretchen Rubin, author of #1 New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project
“Like the best sort of conversation with a wise, hilarious and well-read friend. Sitting somewhere between memoir, literary criticism and comedy, this book slips down like iced vodka and is brilliantly entertaining. Viv Groskop shows us not only why the great Russian classics should matter to us today, but unpicks the contradictions of the “Russian soul”, right down to Tolstoy’s penchant for eggs.” — Sofka Zinovieff, author of The Red Princess.
“Funny and only second best to reading the stuff itself” — Sara Wheeler, The Spectator
“Enchanting. Groskop falls in love with the literature, her impressive knowledge of which she conveys with a charmingly breezy tone.” — The Observer
“A beguiling tasting menu of some of the finest reading experiences of my life. Witty, likeable, and lighthearted, Viv Groskop invites us to embrace the work of these august Russian dead souls as belonging to us all.” — Lionel Shriver
“A superb book. I loved it.” — Vesna Goldsworthy, author of Chernobyl Strawberries.
“A passionate, hilarious, joyful love letter to Russian literature” — Allison Pearson, Sunday Telegraph
“A delightful primer and companion to all the authors you are ashamed to admit you haven’t read” — The Times
“A self-help memoir hybrid, Groskop examines life’s problems, such as unrequited love, feeling directionless and having anxiety about your looks, through 11 Russian classics.” — ELLE
“What does Tolstoy have in common with Oprah Winfrey? What can Chekhov teach us about body image? In The Anna Karenina Fix, comedian Viv Groskop shows us how to use Russian literature as self-help, with hilarious and eye-opening results.” — Good Housekeeping
“Add this memoir to your reading list for winter: The Anna Karenina Fix by Viv Groskop. The popular comedian mines the lessons to be found in classic Russian novels.” — Vogue
“A wry literary memoir examining what we can learn from the great Russian novelists.” — Stylist
Thanks to everyone who has supported Anchorwoman: When the News Gets Too Much all this year and this summer in Edinburgh. It was an insane idea to do a show about the news when everyone is completely sick of the news but hopefully it provided some respite in a warped way. Massive thank you to Zedel where I just did the last show (and messed up the Powerpoint for the first and last time by starting it on the last slide instead of the first — d’oh).
“If we can find who – or what – to blame, we know what to change. Is it the culture? Is it men? Or is it women, afraid to ask for what they’re worth? The reality is that it’s a messy combination of all these things. But only one of them can be changed quickly: how women feel about themselves and their value.
This is difficult stuff to talk about. Philip Hampton, co-chair of a government-commissioned review into the number of women in senior business roles, was reviled last week for saying that the BBC women on the best-paid list “let it [the pay gap] happen because they weren’t doing much about it”. During his career in the City, he said, “lots of men have trooped into my office saying they are underpaid, but no woman has ever done that”. Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey hit back, saying he was “peculiarly out of touch”.
Is he out of touch, or is he speaking from experience? After all, the real story here is not about whether 20 wealthy women at the BBC are paid the same as 40 wealthy men. It’s about the millions of women elsewhere who feel uncomfortable about saying: “Can I have a 20% pay rise this year?” This is the internalised pay gap, and it’s everywhere.”
I set myself the insane task of getting close to a real-life Anchorwoman. And got rather more than I bargained for — on set at Good Morning Britain with Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid. It was an extremely, um, interesting morning…
“As I shadow Reid for the morning – right down to the 3.45am start and a generous application of makeup – I find myself thinking: in her shoes, sitting next to Morgan, what would you do? How distracted would you be by dark thoughts about his salary? How would you hold your own? How would you avoid coming across as “the little woman”?
For the past year, I have been writing a standup show inspired by Angela Rippon, who became the UK’s first woman to hold a position as regular long-term newsreader on a national news programme in 1975. More than 40 years on, we have had dozens of anchorwomen on breakfast television and national news. Women are more physically present on our screens than they were and yet, as the published salaries of the BBC’s talent proved last week, they are often paid far less than their male counterparts.”