I am very excited to be coming to Mad̶chester! In fact I am, as they say, mad for it. This is all part of the Women in Comedy Festival, the first UK festival celebrating women in comedy with 100 events at 16 venues over the whole month. Featuring Lucy Porter, Zoe Lyons, Gina Yashere, Susan Calman and loads of amazing laydeez.
I’m at the King’s Arms in Salford doing the (FIVE STAR — YES!) show of I Laughed, I Cried with What the Frock (click here for the review of the Edinburgh show) at 7pm on Thursday 3 Oct. Tickets are £5. Or slightly less if you buy them in advance — save 60p! Go wild on the money you have saved!
And I’ll be at Waterstones Arndale at 12pm on Friday 4 Oct. This event is free. If I have enough time to make some, I might bring some brownies. (Cakes, not extra daughters. One Brownie in the house is enough.) I am also at Laughing Labia at Taurus Bar, Manchester, on Friday 4 Oct at 9pm. More on all this here.
I’ve just updated the listings (click here) for new events in Shoreditch (although that’s sold out, sorry), Brixton, Manchester and Aylesbury. Coming soon, details for: Teddington (Fri 11 Oct), Wimbledon (Sat 12 Oct), Soho (Mon 14 Oct), Sherbourne (Thurs 17 Oct) and Bath (Wed 23 Oct). I had better put some diesel in the car. *reminds self once again that it is diesel and NOT PETROL*
I Laughed, I Cried reviewed in the Independent on Sunday here: “Insightful nuggets on the peculiar existence of comics, presented here in all their neurotic, competitive glory […]. There are some engaging snapshots from her childhood […]. I Laughed, I Cried is essentially a mid-life crisis played out over 22 chapters. It is also about finding out what you’re capable of at a time when your days revolve around school runs, daily deadlines, and uneventful evenings in front of the telly.”
From the Times here: “Jack Whitehall among others, gave her the good advice to learn from long-term experience, not in a frantic rush. But the rush was what Viv wanted. Smell not only the greasepaint but the sweat… Heroic.” Unabridged review here.
From the Mail on Sunday [not online yet]: “Sometimes comedians can be the worst of companions: boorish, self-obsessed and oddly humourless. However, Groskop keeps her sense of the ridiculous firmly intact throughout. A gruelling and frankly psychotic experiment. […]. She documents each gig with great honesty. We follow open-mouthed as Groskop chases the comedy dragon at the expense of all else.”
From Bruce Dessau of comedy website Beyond the Joke here: “Groskop is clearly some kind of superwoman. Her devotion to the quest and energy levels are astonishing. It could make a great movie. Kristen Wiig in the lead role, naturally. A kind of Fever Pitch for the world of funny.”
And in a bid for the most back-handed compliment ever, Dessau also says this: “Groskop clear has balls of steel to do what she did and it makes a great read. I’ve only ever caught her doing a short set onstage once and if I was completely honest she is possibly a better writer than a stand-up (though Viv did tell me that I saw her on a bad night, so I should really see her again!). Which is not to say that she is a bad stand-up at all, just that she is a brilliant writer. Forget the glamour of Live at the Apollo. This book tells you what stand-up comedy is really like in the trenches when the dressing room is a toilet – if you are lucky.”
So this is what happened at my first Glastonbury:
— 4.45am awake in B&B in Bruton, Somerset (home town). Two hours’ sleep. Get in car.
— 5.15am arrive Glastonbury. Park car in Performers’ Parking Area. Note parking location on phone.
— 6.30am arrive Pyramid Stage having trekked for over an hour across mud, nearly falling over several times whilst wearing excessively foolish white chiffon dress.
— 6.35am on live from the Pyramid Stage for BBC Breakfast, BBC News 24, BBC Points West and Radio Somerset. Still sweating and red-faced from one-hour trek.
— 9am to 1pm eat bacon butties, see Chris Evans, see Radiohead’s Thom Yorke (when I was ordering a raspberry muffin – he said, “I’ll have what she’s having”), get propositioned by man who invites me to the Lost Horizon (naked sauna – I decline), walk miles across mud from Pyramid Stage to The Park.
— 2pm book reading and (minimal) stand-up (very much a chill-out zone, did not want shouty jokes) at the Free University of Glastonbury in the Crow’s Nest at The Park.
— 3pm spend one hour crying and looking for car as phone dead and could not check location of car on phone. Eventually found car. Drive home. Number of hours spent at P̶i̶l̶t̶o̶n̶ ̶P̶o̶p̶ ̶F̶e̶s̶t̶i̶v̶a̶l̶ Glastonbury: 10.
At the Curtis Sittenfeld launch tonight I had the GREAT EXCITEMENT of seeing I Laughed, I Cried on sale for the first time. (These are super-early copies.) Thank you so much to Lutyens and Rubinstein for that. If anyone is desperate to get hold of a copy before the end of the month, this is the only place in London you can get them until the week of June 27. They’re at 21 Kensington Park Road.
My mid-life crisis stand-up comedy memoir I Laughed, I Cried: How One Woman Took On Stand-Up and (Almost) Ruined Her Life is out one month today! Hurrah!
To mark the countdown, Orion has released 10 copies for a giveaway on GoodReads.com. Click here to put your name in the hat. But hurry! The giveaway is only open until 10 June. And if you win, you are supposed to post a review on Goodreads (however short and however negative – it’s OK, I am used to heckling).
Other news so far: Last week it went in at No. 1 on Hot New Releases in Comedy on Amazon. Pick of the Month for June in The Bookseller. Best Non-Fiction Read in Good Housekeeping: “A seize-the-day memoir to inspire anyone with a long-held dream.” In the pages of their June issue I sit proudly alongside ANN WIDDECOMBE. Just as I happily would at any social function. I await your call, Ann. Bring Anton with you.
This interview with Cath Kidston is in Red’s June issue. Really enjoyed meeting her: she seemed quite quiet and understated but a very straightforward sort of person. She did not say anything controversial and I don’t think she ever will. She has just spent the past twenty years quietly and discreetly building a £75 million empire. It is the British way.
This week’s Observer debate took great offence at Ben Elton’s new sitcom The Wright Way and decided to ask, “At 53, is he too old to cut it?” I argued that comedians can be funny — sometimes even funnier — when they get older. Especially Joan Rivers. Comedy critic Bruce Dessau argued that most of them tend to produce their ground-breaking work when they are younger and then peak around forty. This was exciting news for anyone who sees me in the next ten weeks. Then it’s my fortieth birthday. After that? Goodbye, hilarity.
I think I was the only person they could find who would defend Ben Elton, even though I did not go very far down the route of defending The Wright Way and its jokes regarding proud erections. I’m not really trying to defend Ben Elton himself here (he’s more than capable of doing that on his own). I’m just wondering why people get so upset when they don’t find something funny. OK, so it’s not to your taste! It doesn’t mean no-one else will like it. It’s like what Tina Fey says comparing women in comedy to dim sum. “I don’t like Chinese food. Doesn’t mean I write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.”
Talking to Bath Short Story Award about Helen Dunmore, Bulgakov and making voodoo dolls of people who have rejected you.
In TW11 magazine doing stand-up for Oxfam Get Together for International Women’s Day.
Talking to Bath Life about Ben’s Cookies, Amitav Ghosh and jumpsuits.
Talking to Laugh Out London about The Night I Died, standing on a wet cardboard stage in Croydon and Rich Fulcher repeatedly saying, “You look Chinese.”
Talking to Run Riot about Upstairs Downton: The Improvised Episode (latest news: the show will be at The Hive at Heroes of the Free Fringe in Edinburgh from 2 to 25 August).
Interview with Amanda de Cadenet in this month’s Red magazine. Amanda was exactly as she seems in the interview. Open. Interested and interesting. Very LA in the way she talks and in the way she sees the world. I was half-expecting Gwynnie or Demi to phone her during our meeting — “Excuse me, Viv, I’ve just got to take this call” — but to my great distress this did not happen. Good luck to her and her Conversation (her on-line talk show — which is actually good and has extraordinary guests like The Gaga.)