Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Jenny Bede: The Musical

By | Published on Friday 1 April 2022

There’s a treat for fans of musical comedy – and one might also say comedy musicals, I think – coming up at Soho Theatre this week, as Jenny Bede heads to the venue with her much acclaimed show ‘Jenny Bede: The Musical’. 

It’s a comedy hour that made something of a splash up at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, and I suspect more people might have got to see it in the wake of that, had that pesky global pandemic not got in the way. 

We’ve been fans of Jenny since we first became aware of her comedy work in 2015, so I was quite keen to have a quick chat – to find out more about this show, but also a little about her past and hopes for the future. 

CM: Can you start by telling our readers what to expect from the show? What kind of performance is it? Is it really a musical or comedy with music?
JB: It is not just a musical, it’s twenty-five musicals. Kind of.  It probably is best described as musical comedy, but where’s the glitz and glamour in that?!   

CM: Does it tell a story?
JB: It – kind of – tells twenty-five stories, but mainly one about me, my love of musical theatre and my failed 00s pop career.

CM: Are you exploring any particular themes through it?
JB: No matter what I write, the same themes tend to emerge: gender equality, privilege and songs about women’s butts. 

CM: What was the inspiration for it? And what happens between the inspiration and the finished product? What’s your creative process?
JB: I was inspired by Lin Manuel Miranda, who when not getting the roles he thought he deserved, wrote himself one in the form of ‘Hamilton’. I’m not sure if you heard of it, but it did quite well.  After playing one line waitresses for most of my career I thought I’d try the same thing. 

My creative process involves several different tactics – listening to a lot of music that inspires me, getting in the studio with my wonderful music producer Kevan Frost, and screaming repeatedly into a pillow. 

CM: You took this show to Edinburgh a couple of years back – how did that run go? Do you have plans to return to the Festival?
JB: The Edinburgh 2019 run of ‘Jenny Bede: The Musical’ was truly some of the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. And I once played the back end of a pantomime horse. Drunk. I will be going back this year with a brand new show and I can’t wait. 

CM: Has the show changed at all since it was on at the Fringe?
JB: The great thing about talking about musical theatre and not being a hard-hitting political comedian is that your stuff is never that relevant to begin with, so when a global pandemic happens and pushes your show back two years it actually makes little difference. 

CM: Let’s go back a bit now – can you tell us about how you came to be a performer? Was it what you always wanted?
JB: It wasn’t my very first choice, but after finding out that lollipop ladies aren’t as in demand as I hoped it was a close second. I trained at the Royal Academy Of Music in musical theatre then found my way into comedy from there. 

CM: Who or what has influenced your work?
JB: Too many things to list but mainly my dog, Buttons.

CM: What have been the highlights of your career thus far?
JB: I’d love to say it’s knowing that I’m making people laugh and helping them forget their worries in this heinous binfire of a world, but if I’m honest, it would be appearing on celebrity ‘Pointless’. 

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
JB: I genuinely do want to write a real West End musical- and I’m currently working on two.  Also celebrity ‘Masterchef’ feels like the natural progression from celebrity ‘Pointless’. 

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
JB: As soon as this Soho run is over I’m starting to preview my new show, ‘Jenny Bede: The First Pregnant Woman In The World’, which I’m taking to Edinburgh and then on a European tour.  So, lots of songwriting, lots of travel, and lots of screaming into a pillow.  

Jenny Bede is on at Soho Theatre from 7-9 Apr. See the venue website here for more information and to book tickets.

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Photo: Rosie Collins