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I TALK TO Amy Gledhill

"I put a hot dog costume on for three years of my life. We only made one joke about it and then it was just ignored."

Credit: Matt Crockett

Hull-born Amy Gledhill is already an Edinburgh Comedy Awards nominee thanks to her 2019 show Ginster's Paradise as one half of comedy duo The Delightful Sausage, alongside Chris Cantrill. This year, Amy (and Chris) are also going it alone with Amy debuting her first solo hour, The Girl Before The Girl You Marry.

Described as an ultimate antidote to a post-covid hangover, the show promises to be a good-time stand-up show about resilience and dancing, with tales of ballroom triumphs, New Year’s Eve mishaps and (accidentally) flashing royalty!

Just in case the pressure of debuting your first solo hour wasn't enough, Amy will also be performing with Chris as The Delightful Sausage in their brand new show, Nowt But Sea.

Away from the Fringe, Amy Gledhill has appeared in The Stand Up Sketch Show on ITV2 she writes and stars in The Emily Atack Show also on ITV2 and has appeared on shows Hypothetical, Late Night Mash and Question Team, all on Dave.

She was also in Sophie Willan's BAFTA-winning BBC Two sitcom Alma's Not Normal, which is fitting as they both share the honour of being awarded The Caroline Aherne Bursary.

Designed to find, develop and support great new comedy talent, its annual winner is awarded £5000 to support the development of a comedy script and they also receive mentoring from a BBC Comedy Commissioning Editor. Let's hope we get to see Amy's sitcom before too long!

As Amy is one of my 9 exciting newcomers to see at this year's festival, I caught up with her to discuss her journey into comedy, the meaning behind her show's incredible title and how she feels about performing twice every day at the Fringe.

How did you first get into comedy and what made you want to become a stand-up?

I'm a real comedy nerd. I've always loved comedy and was always a bit of a performer, but started off doing ballroom dancing - like all the cool working-class kids in Hull! I'm such a little weirdo! I'd always loved comedy and I got a boyfriend at University who was on the open mic stand-up scene and I'd go to all his gigs, sit in the audience, support him but secretly I'd be thinking "I reckon I could do that better." I really really wanted to try it, but I was just too scared. I think so many people fear it so much, but secretly want to do it.

So I booked in to do a stand-up gig on the internet, this was about 2013, and I booked it in a different city, in Manchester, I wasn't living in Manchester so I went and didn't tell anyone that I was doing it. It was like I was having an affair. I snuck off and everyone was like "What are you doing tonight?" and I was like "Nothing. Just something really boring." Went to the gig, and kept my coat on the whole time because I thought if it goes really badly, I can just leave, nobody needs to know I'd done it - it was like doing a murder!

The second I started doing it, I was like "Why have I waited so long?" I just properly loved it. It was really scary and it wasn't going well, but I loved it!

I did a few gigs and a lot of newer acts, I absolutely look up to because their work ethic is amazing. They have diaries and book gigs. I sort of dipped my toe in and then maybe didn't gig again for six months. Then the next year I was like "I'm going to do it again!" - wow, what a rush. I didn't realise, maybe from living in Hull as well where there aren't many opportunities, the commitment.

There's a real definite path, you're meant to do all these competitions and I just wanted to try it. I wish I'd have started a bit earlier.

And how did The Delightful Sausage - your sketch duo with Chris Cantrill - come about?

I was in a double act before The Delightful Sausage with a girl called Nicola. We only did maybe ten gigs, but again, we just loved it. Nicola said "My boyfriend's doing a show, can you come and watch it because he's not sold any tickets?" - I was like "Oh god, I don't want to! This is going to be absolute crap." - but eventually I was like "Yeah, alright."

So we went and it was Chris! I'd never met Chris and I watched him do the most peculiar, beautiful, hilarious, weird show about a fake timeshare on an island, with a PowerPoint. He was the oddest man, but I just thought his comedy was incredible.

Then Nicola got pregnant, with Chris' son, so she was out of the game for a bit and Chris said "Well I'll do something" and we'd all moved to Manchester together at the same time so we thought if we ran a night, it would ingratiate us a little bit and be a good way for us to meet other comics.

We ran a really weird, ill-attended night where you were only allowed to do three minutes and it had to be new and odd and it was sort of a car crash of a night. But we'd MC it together, not as a double-act, we still very much considered ourselves new solo comics. And then Chris suggested going to Edinburgh as a double-act and I was like "Yeah, alright. What shall we be called?" Nicola had cooked us breakfast that morning, I was staying at their house, and somebody had said "Ooh that's a delightful sausage" and we were like "Let's call ourselves that."

We didn't think it would stick for SIX YEARS and it would become our main source of income! If we'd have known, we probably would've put more thought into it. I put a hot dog costume on for three years of my life. We only made one joke about it and then it was just ignored.

What made you decide to go solo this year with your first hour?

The Delightful Sausage really took off in a good way and we're going back this year with a show I'm really excited about, but on top of that - and especially since the pandemic - because we were all living in Manchester but then Chris and his family moved up to Cumbria, up to Hadrian's Wall and I moved to London.

So there was this huge gulf between us and when gigs started coming back, it made a lot of sense for us to be doing our own stuff as well. We were still dipping our toe in before, doing our solo, but this kicked that all up a gear.

And obviously, living in London it would be crazy for me to not take all the opportunities of being able to gig so much. So I did that and then I thought "You know what? I think I've got enough for a bloody show, guys. I'm gonna do it!"

Now here we are, a few weeks away. How are you feeling?

I think it's going to be good fun, but the thing that I'm really worried about because I've never done anything in Edinburgh on my own before - I've done The Delightful Sausage and I once compered a compilation show, Big Value - but never anything on my own, it feels like I'm having a birthday party and I don't know if anyone's going to come.

It's so scary, putting yourself out there. Plosive are producing my show and I'm so lucky that they are because I find it really difficult to go "Oh yeah, put me on a poster." A stand-up comedian is such a strange job because you need to have an amount of self-confidence to get on stage, but I also think we're all riddled with such cripplingly low self-esteem and self-doubt. "Put just my face on a poster and I think that'd be enough to get people to come."

I mean, the pic with the Wotsit is pretty special.

That photo shoot was the best day of my life! They did my hair up all nice and then they were like "Can you eat a load of Wotsits?" - "Thank you for this opportunity!"

What can people expect when they come to watch the show?

I think the show's gonna be good. It's very honest and very silly and hopefully, what people tend to say they like about my stand-up is that it's full of heart, it's joyful and it's not cynical or political, it's hopefully an antidote to the last couple of years.

I think as well, with The Delightful Sausage, I get to fulfil a lot of my stranger, darker, weirder instincts. So that's all wrapped up there, which means this show is a bit more - in a good way - accessible, relatable and hopefully still just really funny!

The title is great. The Girl Before The Girl You Marry. How did you settle on that?

I was looking at all the stories and all the material I wanted to tell and I was trying to think of what the overarching theme could be. There's one particular story about a proposal which I knew I wanted to be the crescendo of the show, so I was thinking something along them lines also, a lot of people I've been in a relationship with, end up getting married very quickly after we'd been in a relationship which is a little bit of a slap in the face!

Since I put the title out, a lot of people, male, female and other have come up and said how much they really related to that. I say in the show that I feel like a property developer. I get these guys who are not doing great and maybe need a little bit of help with personal hygiene and how to deal with people in social situations. So I scrub them up, make them better and then push them out into the world.

I think a lot of people can relate to that. So it's about the people I've dated moving on, but it's also about how I feel as a chaotic person in the world that maybe you don't want to settle down with.

Alongside your solo show - and we touched on it earlier - you're back as The Delightful Sausage with a new show. How are you feeling about doing two shows a day?

When we decided that that was what the plan was going to be, all we focused on was how tired we were going to be, and if we were going to have a big enough break between the shows and we thought about that so much that we neglected was actually, Edinburgh is going to be fine.

You're only performing for two hours, really, and if you think about a West End show, some people are singing and dancing and all sorts for two and a half hours with a tiny interval! If they can manage, I can do a bit of stand-up with a gap.

I'm not too bothered about that, but the run-up to it. Writing two shows. Previewing two shows. Doing all the admin for two shows. That's been really mad. It was mad that we didn't consider that. All we were focused on was "Will we have enough time to eat between shows?" it's like, yeah, that'll be fine.

Will we be able to write two shows to a high standard and preview them? Oh right, yeah, we totally forgot so it's. been a bit of a mad couple of months but I think August will be a treat actually.

What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh this year?

I know it's called a festival, but you never think about it as an actual festival like Glastonbury, but when you're walking around, you see all these amazing people - some you know, some that you respect, some that you've worked with and it's just incredible that you're all in one city.

I really like the social element of it. I also really like that because the shows are early, I can be in bed by 8pm. We're not cool people who are out partying all the time, we very much like to have a good hot meal, a bath and go to bed.

Who are you hoping will come and watch your show?

Oh my god! I haven't dared think about that. People who are really kind, with big laughs? I'd love people who have seen The Delightful Sausage to come and see me as well. That would be really nice because we've cultivated such a lovely audience, we're so lucky.

I always really like it when there are women or non-binary people in the audience. Just anyone who's nice! That would be really good. I always think it's really exciting if you spot another comic in the audience. That gives you an extra special buzz and if you can see that you've made a comic that you really respect, laugh, your day is made.

Who are you looking forward to seeing?

Maisie Adam. I think she's incredible and I saw her doing a little bit of her show when she was compering a gig at Union Chapel and it was so funny. I love Maisie, so I'll definitely see her.

Nick Helm. I've seen his show in previews and it's just getting better and better so I wanna see what the finished product is.

Jessica Fostekew. I'm just absolutely inspired by her. She's so watchable on stage. Some performers, even though they're brilliant, they're a bit challenging to watch but Jess is so quick and so smart and so lovable as well, that you leave with more energy rather than less, which I think is really good.

Sofie Hagen, I'll go and see. I think she's an absolute master of Edinburgh. There are so many! So many people have had their shows honed and ready that this year you're going to see such a high standard across the board. I think it's going to be a really good year.

What are you hoping to achieve by the end of the Fringe?

I'd love to just feel like a better comic by the end of it. I think the experience of just gigging every day. Doing an hour every day. As just me, with no bells and whistles or hot dog costumes or Chris Cantrill. If I can do an hour, every day of the Fringe - except the 17th, when I'm having a day off! - then I'll be just so chuffed with my achievement.

One of the things doing a solo show coming from a double act is you do feel like you're letting go of a really big safety net. Maybe if this goes really well, I'll cut him out entirely!

Ambitions beyond the Fringe, then. What would you like to be doing?

It feels absolutely crazy to say, but I think a sitcom is the dream. I've got a solo sitcom in development off the back of winning the Caroline Aherne Bursary. But it's so far away from being on telly. Even the process has been amazing. And I'd love The Delightful Sausage to have a vehicle, in whatever weird shape that will be.

So that's the ultimate goal, but it still feels very far away. But it's nice to aim for it!

Outside of the Fringe, what have you been working on? What's coming up?

I've been writing on The Emily Atack Show which will be on ITV2, that's in its third series which is brilliant. Myself and Chris have just filmed something to do with Late Night Mash which was an absolute hoot to film. All sorts of bits and bobs really.


The Delightful Sausage: Nowt But Sea


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