Since entering the world of comedy in 2008, to being nominated for the Best Show award with Edinburgh Comedy, Felicity Ward has gone from strength to strength. RAZZ had a chat with her about all things comedy and how her career has progressed.
What can we expect from your Bust a Nut tour?
It’s just an hour of straight up club material. Basically, what happens is I think about what I want to talk about, or what I have been talking about and figure out how I’m going to put that in a show. I figure out what the theme is, the narrative, or the story, and this time I went through things over the last two years that hadn’t been put into previous shows and I put it all together, hoping a theme would emerge. It didn’t, so it’s just an hour of club material put together in a show.
What is usually your first step in writing a show? What happens during your day one preparation?
Day one preparation for this tour began a couple of years ago when I thought, ‘I’m not doing any shows in summer 2017’ so I just relaxed and thought about what I wanted to write material about. I stayed with my in-laws for a little bit, I did hot yoga for the first time, went on a honeymoon, went to Italy with my mum… I wrote all of this down and I had to come up with a title. You have to do that eight months before the Fringe festival and I thought ‘busting a nut’ was funny and then I made myself dress up as a squirrel, and I stuck that in a poster. So, that’s probably the first step. That’s the first step to any good show: dressing up as a squirrel in high heels.
Have you always known you wanted to go into comedy?
No, not at all. I never wanted to be a comedian. I was an actor, which is what I had always wanted to do. My friend went to university and they were directing the arts review, and they helped me get into this sketch show which got turned into a TV show. Then I was a tour manager for a couple of years, and I ended up getting on TV as a panellist on Adam Hills’ show and I thought, ‘maybe I could just be myself, and that could be enough to be funny; I don’t have to be a character.’ It was a bit of an accident! Then Adam Hills’ girlfriend saw me on his panel show and wanted me to do a spot on her variety show. I hadn’t performed for years because I had been tour managing so I was like ‘uh, yeah, okay’. I was going to get these toy tanks to shoot infrared bullets at each other and you would get shot in the hand if you connected with the bullets. So, I was going to get someone out of the audience and ask them trivia questions, and if they got it wrong, I was going to shoot them with an electric shock. That was the grand plan. Two days before, the postman delivered them, he left them outside and someone had stolen them. So, I had to write twelve minutes of stand-up for my first gig ever. So, that’s how I ended up doing stand-up. My tanks got stolen.
What is your favourite thing about working as a comedian?
All of my friends are funny. It’s the best. I get to hang out with really smart, fun and goofy people. Even the dumb ones are smart, if that makes sense. Even the people who present themselves as dumb, they’re not dumb, they’re geniuses.
What is your career highlight so far?
I got to open for Maria Bamford and she’s my favourite comedian of all time. Also doing Live at the Apollo. Also, getting nominated for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the best comedy award. So, it’s been a really big year.
You’ve also done a lot of work surrounding mental health, I wonder if you have any plans to continue projects about it?
Yeah! I’m not a patron of a charity per se, but I’m involved with different stuff and I keep writing stand-up about it. There’s a little bit of stand-up in this show about mental illness, not heaps, but enough to do a little wink to all my fellow anxiety and depression sufferers in the audience. A little ayy! Also I recently did an interview with Dame Kelly Holmes for her podcast. I just can’t stop banging on about it!
What are you most excited about with this tour?
I’m excited that people are coming. And that I’m selling tickets. Every year you hope to sell more tickets, but I’m still not used to it. I’m doing Bristol and that’s sold out already, even though it’s not for another two or three weeks. I don’t know how that’s happened. Bristol is one of my biggest venues and I can’t believe it.
Did you always feel confident or is it now that you’re used to performing that it’s easier?
Something’s happened this year where I feel very excited about going on stage when it’s my own show. When it’s a line-up show, I still get nervous. I think there’s some comfort in knowing the majority of the audience have come to see me, or are taking a punt on me. Some of them would have seen me before and like me. It can’t be everyone taking a punt. There’s probably eight people that have seen something that I’ve done before. I don’t feel as nervous having my own show, I just get excited.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to go into comedy?
There are no shortcuts. You’ve got to do the stage time. Write, write, write! Write everything down that you think sounds funny. If there’s a funny word, write it down. If there’s a phrase, write it down. You might not use it in a joke now, but you’ll be desperate in a couple of years’ time, when you’re going through your old notebooks. Do as many gigs as you can. More practice is the only way to get good.
Thank you so much, Felicity!
Felicity Ward is coming to The Phoenix, Exeter on Saturday 13th October. Call 01392 667080 for box office.
~ Interview by Cesca Getty
Photo Credits: Philip Gatward