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I TALK TO Catherine Bohart

Comedian Catherine Bohart is the bisexual daughter of a Catholic Deacon who struggles with her OCD and after a number of years on the circuit she's bringing her highly-anticipated debut hour Immaculate, to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

© Matt Crockett

How are you feeling about your debut Edinburgh hour?

It depends what day of the week you ask me that. Some days I'm like "Oh yeah! Can't wait! It's gonna be great!" and then other days I'm like "Why am I doing this? This is a terrible idea!"

But no, I'm excited and it's been really fun to write with purpose. In the way that you have to when you're doing a show for an hour rather than just spots.

Does it feel like the right year for you to be doing your debut?

I mean... I hope it's the right year but it's happening either way!

There's a point where you have roll the dice and see how it goes but it's not going to the making or the breaking of me. Obviously it's going to be great if it goes well, but equally I intend to be at the Fringe for many many more years.

I'm excited to get better and I think doing the same show every day for a month can only do that. It can only make me better.

How long have you been working on the show for?

It's kind of hard to tell really because I've been doing comedy for just over three years and a lot of the things I started talking about, I'm still talking about but I'd like to think in a funnier and more unique way.

So I guess the whole time I've been doing comedy but I didn't conceive it a show until probably September after I came back from the Fringe last year.

How have you found that process of putting all that material into an hour-long show?

Honestly, it's felt really fun because it has more of a narrative arc and more of a function than it does when you just throw stuff out in five or ten-minute chunks so that's been really nice.

To have an hour to yourself to do with what you want is a real luxury isn't it?

Totally. Massive luxury! And really exciting. I still can't believe that people are going to pay money to see me for an hour. I'm allowed to talk for an hour which usually would have people going "OK, she's a bit of a rude dinner guest" but it's exciting because I can actually do that and not have to apologise for it.

Why have you decided to call your show Immaculate?

Well, I have OCD and I talk about that in the show and also I'm from quite a religious country and background and 'Immaculate' has a lot of religious connotations.

And also because comedy shows by their nature, can't be immaculate. So I think it's quite fun to play with that. Being an OCD person in the real world where nothing can ever be perfect but you've got to come to terms with that.

What is Immaculate about?

The pitch for my show is that I am the bisexual daughter of a Catholic Deacon and I've got OCD. The show is sort of about discovering those things and then also coming to terms with how they might be able to co-exist.

Mainly it's jokes! Don't worry...

Is sounds like a very personal show...

Yes! It's very personal. I think next year I'm going to do some political comedy. Maybe I'll just do something about the World Cup.

But yeah, it's very personal which is exciting because it means that when people like the show, it's because they really resonate with it and they really relate to it.

But it also means that if they don't like it, you're just pouring your heart out to a bunch really distant faces and that can be a lot.

Do you enjoy pouring your heart out to audiences? Or do you feel like you want to hold back sometimes?

There is a natural comedic instinct to self-protect. To pull away from the serious and the vulnerable and just make the quickest joke you can. I have to try and resist the urge to go "Get out! Get out!" every two minutes and stick with the discomfort of some of the stuff.

Some of my favourite shows have done that, but I just didn't realise before that it takes quite a lot of guts to expose yourself... "Expose myself?!" that's probably the wrong phrase. That makes it sound like I'm naked. I'm not. I'm not at any point in the show.

How have the previews been going?

Well, it's been a bit of a mixed bag because we have this phenomenal summer which I'm so happy for everyone about but I'm like... "I need to preview!" and people don't want to come to previews when it's sunny. Or if they do, they've been drinking all day, they're burnt and like "We better just push on" and I'm like "No, it's OK to go home if you're too tired." but they come and they basically fall asleep.

On the whole, they've been very helpful and I think if you have got a comic instinct, just saying it out loud is useful. I previewed in Edinburgh the other week at The Stand and that was lovely so there are some really nice ones and a lot of sunburnt faces.

How do you feel about performing the show night after night?

Terrified! Only because I didn't realise how much energy it takes to stand up there for an hour. I think even if you weren't talking about personal things, it's just a long time to speak.

It's something to die for fifteen-minutes, it's a whole other thing to die for an hour! It give the jokes space and you can breath and tell a story in a way you can't in a set which is nice.

I am nervous because also with Edinburgh, unlike most gigs you do, you are obviously, whether you want to be or not, under scrutiny. And I've not really had to deal with that much because I haven't done an hour yet.

But you know, I like my show and I think it's getting there. I'm about 90% ready but the 10% feels like the important part. The show exists, it's got jokes in, there's a structure. It runs for the time that it's meant to run for, but I still feel like it'll be a few more previews before it feels like I'm in control of it, rather than the other way around.

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

I'm quite excited to shake the monkey off my back as it were and get the debut done. I'd like to just be after that because the spotlight isn't on you quite so much.

I'm always a better comic at the end of the Fringe than before I go, so I'm excited for that. But also, it's like Summer Camp. I know a lot of comics don't like Edinburgh but I am the complete opposite. I love Edinburgh, it's a beautiful city, you get to see amazing comics much cheaper than you usually would see them. Sometimes you get to see people from the States or Australia who you never see. I love everything about it, I think it's so great.

Probably in five years time I'll be like "I hate Edinburgh" but I'm not broken by it yet. I still love it.

Your girlfriend Sarah Keyworth is also heading up there with her debut this year. Is it nice to be able to share that experience with her?

It is so nice. Because at the moment we are being rubbish daughters, rubbish friends, rubbish partners, rubbish functioning adults so it's so nice to have someone there who totally understand why I can only see them for 20 minutes next Thursday.

Other than Sarah, who are you looking forward to seeing this year?

Oh so many people! I'm really looking forward to seeing Ed Night's show. I saw his show last year at the very end of the Fringe as a complete comedy wannabe who had to go and see it and then I was absolutely blown away.

I'm really excited to see Pierre Novellie's show, Harriet Kemsley, I love Felicity Ward, hers was one of the first I saw at the Fringe as was Carl Donnelly so I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do.

Sindhu Vee I'm really excited to see. There are loads of amazing women debuting this year. Micky Overman, Maisie Adam...

Oh... Dylan Moran's doing a show and he's one of those people that I cannot believe I get to see live. Because he was one of the few who was on the telly when I was a kid that I remember. I mean, there are so many people but today those are the people I want to see.

You recently supported Ellie Taylor on tour. What was that like?

Amazing! Ellie is incredibly supportive and incredibly positive which is sort of infectious. And she has this incredible way with her audience of making them feel that they're her friend immediately which is so lovely to watch.

It also means that when she brings you on as her support and goes "Here's my friend" they go "Oh well then I'm sure we'll be friends" - so that was so great and it meant that I got to play bigger rooms that I wouldn't play usually.

Did she give you any Fringe advice?

She said to make sure I do things that aren't just comedy. Like go for a run, or go out of the city a bit if you can and just to not take it too seriously. There's a lot of hype and pressure in debuting but it's kind of industry made rather than self made.

I just want to be better and I want to have a good time. I want people to come to my show, pay and enjoy it. But after that you can't control a lot of it so you might as well try and have a good time. Because I think if the comic's having a good time, more often than not, the audience will have a better time.

Finally, how would you sum up your show in just five words?

All you need to know.

Catherine Bohart: Immaculate runs from 1st - 26th August (Not 14th) at 4:15pm at The Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Two). Book tickets here.

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