Sara Pascoe did not plan to become a comedian as she told an audience at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) that she has always been ‘very sad and serious.’
The multi award-winning comic shared how she fell into a comedy career much to the surprise of herself, her family and friends, especially her mother who insists she’s just not funny!
Sara, the star of Live at The Apollo, Mock the Week and QI, was talking about her career and future plans at ‘I Say – The Annual Comedy Conversation’ as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival.
She was interviewed by Festival Director and Founder Geoff Rowe, a DMU graduate, on Friday night ahead of her ‘Lads Lads Lads’ gig at The Curve.
She told TheVenue@DMU that she didn’t used to watch comedy as she ‘just didn’t get it’ and thought ’it was stupid.’
She said: “I didn’t have any big objective to be a comedian. I didn’t know I wanted to be a comedian until I’d done it for about three months.
“I was trying to be an actor from the age of 18 to 27; in fact I’m still trying!
“I’ve been very sad and serious my entire life. My mum remains bemused that I’m a comedian as she says ‘you’re just not funny.’”
Sara said when she was a student she was only interested in talking about Israel and Palestine. After university, she sang to ‘sleeping pensioners’ in theatre shows at old people’s homes and performed at open-mic nights with her guitar.
Then realising there were more comedy than theatre opportunities, she started asking comedians for gigs, initially telling jokes about how the film High School Musical made school look fun.
She got her big break when she was a runner-up in the Funny Woman Competition and was approached by her agent, who she credits with ‘changing her life.’
Sara said she had low confidence and used to be scared of the audience and it took other comedians encouraging her to believe in herself.
She said she was lucky to start in the ‘golden age of comedy’ and praised the close-knit stand up circuit and the support of fellow comedians.
However, she admitted that despite gigging for 10 years, she still gets nervous and said it was even worse ‘when the audience know who you are.’
Sara, who said she is a Labour supporter from a working-class family, also discussed how she didn’t agree with comedians speaking about topics as if they were experts.
She said: “Some comedians make it sound like they know what they are talking about but they don’t really understand stuff properly.
“It’s such an arrogant thing to do to think you know more than other people as you are on stage. You are saying fiction but making it sound believable.
“It’s dangerous that people can say absolutely anything if they have a microphone.”
Sara also touched on the importance of unions to protect the rights of comedians, and how she preferred British to American comedy.
She said: “I’ve never been to America, I’ve never wanted to go, I find it quite scary as a concept. Great Britain has the best comedy and stand-up comedians in the world.”
Sara has recently published her first novel ‘Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body’ and is currently researching her second book. She said she was ‘obsessed with reading’.
She also wants to do more acting, but said it was hard to squeeze in auditions as her ‘availability is so small.’
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Sara said it would be her dream to study for another degree in the day and star in a West End show at night. She said she would study Philosophy, Politics and the Economy, as ‘that is the key to everything.’
The audience also had the chance to ask Sara questions. They quizzed her on censorship and political correctness in comedy, writing more novels, and her favourite restaurant in Leicester!
DMU is the Higher Education Partner of the Leicester Comedy Festival, which continues until Sunday.
For further information or tickets, visit the Leicester Comedy Festival website.
Posted on Wednesday 21st February 2018