Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Stevie Martin: Vol 1

By | Published on Friday 12 April 2019

Most self-respecting sketch comedy fans will have probably experienced the work of excellent sketch troupe Massive Dad (or at the very least, heard of it) in the last few years, and it’s through that particular outfit that we first discovered Stevie Martin, who heads to Soho Theatre this week with the solo debut show that she premiered up at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.

She is known for more than just her live work, of course: you might have also have witnessed her writing, seen her on TV, or listened to her podcast. I arranged a quick chat to find out more about all of that.

CM: Can you start by telling us what kind of show to expect? How would you categorise it in terms of style or genre?
SM: It’s an hour of different openings for all different types of shows, from stand up to the first few minutes of a séance. So it’s basically a sketch and character show but with a concept-y twist and nothing can, by default, outstay its welcome because it’s only the beginning. My main aim is pure escapism, so everyone can have a break from crying about the actual world for a bit.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the range of characters you play in the show?
SM: Everything from a woman whose child is a demon to a TED Talk speaker who hasn’t prepared at all. My favourite character last for 2 seconds and is a competitor for Great Britain in the Olympic Luge semi-finals.

CM: Are there any particular themes running through it?
SM: Yep, the fact that it’s all openings!

CM: This is the show you did in Edinburgh last summer, isn’t it? How did the run go for you?
SM: It’s very tech-heavy which caused some problems, but once we were off and running I had an incredible amount of fun each night. Apart from 27 Aug, when all of the audience remained silent while applauding every joke. 27 Aug was weird.

CM: How does it feel to be performing alone after appearing so much with a troupe?
SM: It was initially terrifying but also a lot more freeing. A lot of my ideas weren’t right for Massive Dad so it was fun to try them out, and get a good response! It’s given me a load of confidence.

CM: How does live performance compare to the TV work you have done?
SM: Live performance is so much more dangerous and exciting, because literally anything could go wrong at any point. TV is more of a pared-down art form that I also really love for completely different reasons! You can really think about what you’re doing and have numerous goes at it, which I think helps!

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your ‘Nobody Panic’ podcast?
SM: Every episode we try and tackle an important or seemingly trivial life hack (from how to have more confidence, to how to leave a WhatsApp group) in a bid to become a functioning adult without screaming all the time. It has actually helped. This year I got an accountant and I no longer lose all my socks.

CM: Can we go back a bit and talk about how you got to this point – were you always planning a performing career? How did you get into it?
SM: I was in the Durham Revue as a student but there were no female sketch groups that I knew of performing live at that point, so I didn’t really think of it as a viable career choice. I became a journalist, worked everywhere from Vice and The Guardian to Grazia and FHM (gotta pay them bills) but on the side I started Massive Dad because I felt like there was something missing. Now, four and a bit years after our first Fringe show it’s swapped round and comedy/acting/performing has become my main job which is, if I’m honest, a lot more fun. I can’t do office hours. I go mad.

CM: What aims or ambitions do you have for the future?
SM: The overall aim is to write and be in my own series (comedy, obviously) and I’d also like to write a book, but mainly I’d love to do as many varied things as possible. I get horribly bored doing one thing.

CM: What’s coming up for you next after this? And is Vol. 2 in the pipeline…?
SM: I’m taking my second show, ‘Hot Content’, to the Fringe this year. It’s about how obsessed we all are with content and how it’s affecting all areas of our lives, drawing on my time as a click-hungry journalist through to how much of a pain in the arse thinking up an Instagram story is. Like ‘Vol. 1’, it’s very silly. I’ve also bought three fake ravens on Amazon, for obvious reasons.

‘Stevie Martin: Vol.1’ is on at Soho Theatre from 17-20 April. See the venue website here for more information and to book tickets.

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Photo: Idil Sukan