Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Tiff Stevenson: Mad Man

By | Published on Thursday 18 February 2016


If you’re looking for some quality comedy this weekend, then you won’t go wrong having a look at the line-up on offer over at Phoenix Fringe. And one of the stand-out acts appearing is the brilliant Tiff Stevenson, who performs her acclaimed show, ‘Mad Man’. Don’t worry if you can’t make it this time, though, she’ll be performing it in London again in March.
Anyway, as big fans of Ms Stevenson and all her live, TV, radio and written work, of course we wanted to make time for a chat. I put some questions to her, ahead of her date at The Phoenix.

CM: Tell us about ‘Mad Man’. What topics do you cover in it?
TS: It covers identity, and what we think makes up who we are, how much of it is genuine and how much of it is just absorbed through constant bombardment from advertising. It also looks at equality and how we are nowhere near to getting it. Oh and it’s about Bingo Wings and penises too. Bantz.

CM: What made you want to attack these particular themes?
TS: I like talking about race because I am a race. I talk about equal pay because I think it’s important. I find it interesting that subtle and nuanced debate seems to have disappeared in the age of outrage. Stuff that gets me going and makes me angry, I can normally make funny. Sometimes it’s shooting people indiscriminately and sometimes it’s stupid T-shirts or Iggy Azalea.

CM: Do you have an agenda, in choosing to talk about this stuff? Do you want to educate people…? Or just make them laugh…?
TS: See above! I don’t know that it is my job to educate per se, but I like people to come out of my shows and have thought about things in a different way.

CM: Do you think it’s a man’s world? Is it changing at all? Do you think it’s actually possible to really improve things?
TS: You have to believe in change, otherwise I’d just down a bottle of paracetamol right now. I would say it’s definitely a man’s world though, you only have to look at inherent power structures to know that is true… yet women account for the majority of the population (51 %). It’s time it was more balanced, and we are getting there but very, very slowly.

CM: Can we go back a bit now? How and why did you get into doing stand-up? Was it something you were always interested in?
TS: As a kid I danced so I thought I would do that when I grew up. Then I thought a bit about being an actor, then a journalist and a lawyer. I felt a keen seen of justice but I was also a massive show off… hence arriving at stand-up.

CM: As well as doing stand-up, you do lots of acting and writing. If you could only do one, what would it be?
TS: I believe all of it is art, so it’s all the same job and you can’t make me choose.

CM: Which do you prefer, doing TV stuff or performing live?
TS: They both nourish in different ways. Stand-up is a very solo pursuit and sometimes you have to isolate yourself to get clarity of thought. Sometimes it’s like trying to bottle lightening and you can’t, that’s why it’s special.

TV is team work and it’s fun being with other creative individuals. Different stuff comes up but it’s safer, because it has to be. Acting wise you are a smaller piece in the jigsaw, and it’s nice to see where you fit in to the bigger picture. You remember what it’s like to not be a completely selfish beast.

CM: Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
TS: Writing my special by my pool, and fielding many invitations to marry heads of state or Ryan Gosling

CM: And what do you have planned for your immediate future?
TS: My tour, and I’m also putting the finishing touches to a documentary I’ve made about ageing and women’s faces. I’m writing a script with Rich Hall, and shooting the next series of ‘People Just Do Nothing’. Then a long nap.

Tiff Stevenson performs ‘Mad Man’ at Phoenix Fringe on 19 Feb, and at Leicester Square Theatre on 31 Mar. For info on those dates, see this link and that link respectively. For further UK tour dates, see Tiff’s website. And for info about all the other great stuff going on at Phoenix Fringe over the weekend, see this page here.

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