Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Maddy Anholt: Diary Of A Dating Addict

By | Published on Thursday 2 July 2015


The marvellous Maddy Anholt, who wowed Edinburgh Festival audiences in 2013 with her Fringe debut ‘Maddy’s Many Mouths’, is headed back up to the Scottish capital later this summer with her latest show, ‘Diary Of A Dating Addict’, but before she does that, she’s going to treat London audiences to a few sneaky previews…

Far from being a simple stand up or character show, this sounds like it has a very strong theme, and interesting observations to make, so I was keen to find out more about it. I sent some questions over to Maddy, ahead of her London dates.

CM: Can you begin by telling us what to expect from the show? Does it have a linear narrative?
MA: ‘Diary of a Dating Addict’ is a journey of self-discovery. All of us have photos of our younger selves where we say “I can’t believe I wore that” or “jeez, why was I friends with them?” or, “why did I pluck my eyebrows to look like sperm?” and that’s okay, as long as we learn from mistakes, put the tweezers down and appreciate ourselves for who we are; that’s when we’re in the position to find our perfect partner.

This is as much a show about finding love as it is about self-acceptance. I guess you could say it has a relatively linear narrative in that I track back over a year of dating, mating and hating and bring it to where I am now; there’s a cheeky sprinkling of audience interaction, some whacking realisations and a nice dose of sardonicism.

CM: What kind of characters can we expect to see cropping up?
MA: I play four men in Diary of a Dating Addict who are amalgams of guys I dated over the year.

The best thing I’ve ever heard from an audience member after one of my shows was: “I know that guy! I’m sure I do!” That tells me I’m doing something right. I want my characters to be relatable; from the Wanker Banker Banter Boy that Mastered in Mansplaining to the Bad Man you’ll find blaring his selection of awful music out on the top of the bus.

I like to think the persona I adopt as the narrator is a heightened version of me; the Everywoman as it were, speaking honestly about single life, relationships and not settling for second best.

CM: What inspired you to focus the show on this particular subject?
MA: This was a very cathartic show to write, I wanted an outlet to express the feeling you have as a single woman when you wake up, scroll through Facebook and see four of your friends have got engaged overnight. There’s a point you reach, I’d say over 26 for women and slightly older for men, when you look at the world a little differently. You think it might actually be quite nice to have an intelligent conversation and cuddle up with somebody on a Saturday night instead of flashing the barman to get some free sambucas then vomming all over your best friends’ new shoes.

CM: Does it address particular issues? Are there specific points you are trying to make?
MA: First and foremost it deals with the issue of loneliness. We’re in a city of 8 million but when you catch someone’s eye on the tube it’s like you’ve just passed on Ebola. I also talk about obsession and what it is to be in a relationship where you are totally hooked but you know it’s not right for you. As they say, being single is far better than being in a lousy relationship so instead of this being a show about hunting for men, it’s much more about searching for the right man, not settling for fear that you’ll soon have to Google ‘Wholesale Whiskers cat food’.

I’m also really interested in what love was before the proliferation of social media, was there more genuineness? Was it far less looks-based and much more about good old-fashioned chemistry? Social media crops up a few times in my show, especially in respect of what it does to our confidence levels. It’s so hard not to compare your lives to other people’s these days. Wondering how you’re the same age as your friend who has a designer handbag, a hot boyfriend and goes on three holidays a year and you’re eating a Pot Noodle, watching Ant and Dec and picking your toenails.

CM: Is it autobiographical? Just how much of your experience were you prepared to divulge to the world…?
MA: Not totally, but I think it’s fair to say it’s semi-autobiographical. It includes excerpts of stories told to me by friends who went on hilariously bad dates, some experiences are my own and a few ideas have been fed some E numbers for the sake of comedy, but the underlying tale of a woman approaching 30 and trying to find her way in the world is 100% me.

CM: How did you go about creating the show? Did you just work on it in a room by yourself or did you get someone in to help…?
MA: I always start the writing process in the same way: I get a big piece of paper, as big as I can find and I rough out exactly what it is I want to cover, after that I slot characters in and then try and fit it all together.

Once I’ve got that I’ll confine myself to a room for hours on end, squinting at the screen and try and get it pretty much written. The most useful tool of all though, is audience; you can go a bit stir-crazy sitting by yourself, talking in the voices of characters for hours on end. The hardest bit for me is not writing the show itself but trying to be your own critic and taking bits out that don’t work and putting in new ideas. I try and be strict with myself but quite often (as I have already done about six times whilst writing this) I’ll find myself drifting off to Facebook or Twitter which really interrupts my stream of consciousness, so when I’m writing I’ll turn off the wi-fi.

CM: How did you get into comedy? Did you always want to be a performer? Who have your influences been?
MA: I definitely knew I always wanted to be a performer. I went to ALRA, the same drama school that Miranda Hart and Bridget Christie went to, and that was where I began working on characters. I remember we had a module where we would have to observe another person in their daily life and then become them – talk like them, walk like them, do everything like them for a week. It was brilliant, and I learnt so much about what it takes to develop a truthful character.

A massive influence in my life is Sally Phillips, (I can do the best Sally Phillips impression, ask me to do it if you see me, it’s my party trick) I just think she’s incredibly talented and I would love to have something close to her career. ‘Smack the Pony’ was pivotal in my life; it made me comprehend what was achievable with enough bravery and hard work.

Amy Poehler is also wondrous. I love her views on career, she says: “Treat your career like a bad boyfriend. It likes it when you don’t depend on it. It will chase you if you act like other things (passion, friendship, family, longevity) are more important to you.” Although I find that really hard to live by, she’s right.

Comedy went from a sideline to my chosen career when I left drama school and very quickly realised I wouldn’t be satisfied sitting in a casting room in a parallel universe, with twenty other girls that looked exactly like me praying I’d get the role as ‘girl-next-door 2’ in the new Halfords commercial. My career needed to be more unique and exciting than that, so I went to town on my own writing. I’ve never been one to sit around and depend on other people to get things done. Part of the reason I’m still single, I’m sure, is because I was the annoying girlfriend that asked you to clean something then went and re-did it myself.

CM: What was your worst date ever?
MA: There was one incident where I made my date so nervous that he felt the need to buy 6 shots of tequila, down every single one, disappear for twenty minutes and then return pale-faced, with questionable stains down his front. The date ended after he asked if he could sleep on my sofa because “his mum would be really angry if he came home drunk”.

CM: What happens next for this show?
MA: After previewing in London and beyond in July I’ll be taking the show to Edinburgh (Gilded Balloon at 1.30pm for the whole month); after that… who knows? With any luck I can take it to The Soho, and I’m hoping for some TV/ Radio development work after that.

‘Diary Of A Dating Addict’ previews in London on various dates and in various locations throughout July, before heading up to the Edinburgh Fringe. See list below for dates, or this page here.

3 Jul: Etcetera Theatre, Camden
5 Jul: Bread & Roses Theatre, Clapham
10 Jul: Hen and Chickens Theatre, Islington
30 Jul: Cutty Sark Studio, Greenwich

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