"I've learnt to trust my own instincts a bit more."
For her criticially acclaimed debut hour, Catherine Bohart introduced herself to audiences as the bisexual daughter of a Catholic Deacon who also has OCD and now she's returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a show all about sex, sexuality and relationships.
We caught up to discuss how she felt that hour went, what her TV highlights over the past year have been and why she has someone who hated her show last year to thank for this year's show... sort of.
Last year you made your debut in Edinburgh and it seemed to go very well.
Yeah, it went really well and this past year has been very exciting because I've done quite a few TV bit like Roast Battle, The Mash Report and 8 Out of 10 Cats which I've loved doing. 8 Out of 10 Cats is a show I've watched long before I started doing comedy so it was like being in the television of my youth. I'd look over to Jimmy like "I don't know what's going on!"
I was sat beside Richard Osman and Katherine Ryan, who by the way are two of the most impressively supportive stage parents I've ever heard in my life. They were so nice to me. Every time the camera wasn't on us I'd turn around and the two of them would be giving me thumbs up. What great parents! That was a definite moment of "I can't believe this is my job" and even if it all goes away tomorrow, I'll never regret having done this.
And what's been really nice is that the things I wanted out of my debut like to go to Melbourne and do Soho Theatre happened. I did an extra show in the main space at Soho Theatre and it sold out and that was the best night of my show ever. I've seen so many of my comedy heroes in that space so to be there and have a good show was a real highlight.
The debut feels like such a relief to have done. You feel like you're part of the big boy club once you're done. Also, in my particular case, I got to put to bed a lot of things that I'm glad I talked about, but I'm also glad to move on from.
Was it what you expected?
It was better in the sense that I was lucky and it went well and until you do it you sort of don't know if you can. And it was harder. I have a new found respect for the people who do an hour every year. It's a real test of stamina and being sure of yourself even when you have bad days.
What I loved was that people would come to see you which is a special thing that I had never appreciated before. Someone who has read about the show or has seen you before and has come specifically because they want to hear what you have to say. It's such a wonderful space in which to gig which gives you this freedom that you don't have anywhere else.
Were you always going to be back this year?
Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment. But also I really want to learn how to write a show in 11 months. It's a whole new challenge and one that I want to be good at because I want to be a stand-up and you need to have a lot of material under your belt before you do anything beyond that.
Last year, I imposed all these ridiculous rules on my debut that were entirely subconscious. Where as this year I feel really free of them. I can just talk about what I want to talk about without feeling the need to introduce myself.
It wasn't so much that it was the only opportunity, but it was one of the best opportunities to go "Here I am!" and it's more of an uphill battle to that after. Also because the material isn't stuff I've been doing for a few years, I'm less attached to it which means if something doesn't work I can just throw it away.
How long have you been working on this year's show for?
I've been working on it ever since I got back, but in a totally different way. Last year I was so sure on what I wanted the story to be and then I was filling it in with material. This year has been writing material and then seeing what the show is which has been a really nice way to do it because I think it's more creative to ask yourself what's funny and talk about what you want to talk about right now.
What can people expect from your show this year?
This year's show is very much about long-term relationships and sex and gender performance in those relationships - the difference between being in a queer relationship as opposed to a straight relationship and I can talk about that having been in both and dated men and women.
I don't necessarily think men are one thing and women are another but it's nice to compare my experiences with them.
Why have you decided to call this year's show Lemon?
Basically, a woman came to my show last year in a lemon cardigan and she hated it. Like truly truly truly hated it. She hated it because she didn't like that I was talking about my sex life on stage and this probably tells you as much as it needs to about my personality - I thought I'd do a whole show about sex then! And that's what I've done.
The other reason is that in fan fiction, the word they use for a warning that a lot of sex coming up is "there's lots of lemons coming up" and also it's a derogatory term that's used to describe lesbians sometimes. Lots of reasons.... and I liked the word.
How have the previews been going?
They've been a real mixed bag. At the weekend I have the best preview I've ever had and the worst preview I've ever had on Saturday and Sunday respectively so I'd say they've been a rollercoaster!
But they've been nice because I prefer this year's show to last year. It feels more like me and less effortful so I am enjoying previewing it more.
What's the biggest thing you learnt from doing last year's show?
That you can't be for everyone. That is definitely the best thing I learnt from last year. And there's actually no point even trying. It's never going to happen. It's impossible.
Even things that you don't think will insult people or bother people - somebody will have an issue with it so I've learnt to trust my own instincts a bit more. If I'm OK with it, that's alright.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Oh yes. I'm a pacer for sure. I now do my make-up as close to my show as I can as a bit of a ritualistic mask. And I try, where I can to do a vocal warm-up and to eat a snack or something because I think I'm one of the few comedians who eats right before they go on stage.
I have to! I get really panicky about the fact that I might get hungry. So if I worry that I might get hungry it'll distract me on stage and I'll start thinking about food instead of the gig!
Usually it's a cereal bar or a bag of crisps - so bad I know! I should not be saying that.
What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh?
I'm looking forward to gigging for people who have come to see you on purpose rather than "Oh shit, there's a woman on."
And food... is that bad? You walk so much that you can eat what you want.
Do you plan on seeing much comedy?
Oh year! I'm really excited to see some shows and I feel like I'll be more willing to do that this year than I was last year because I just wanted to get through each show and get home and have a cry.
Liza Treyger is an American comic who's coming and I think she's absolutely brilliant. I'm really excited to see Helen Bauer and Sophie Duker's debut, I think they're both brilliant. Sarah Kendall is going this so I'm really excited to see her. I think she's incredible. Josie Long... loads of people!
Oh and every time I go I like to see Ahir Shah's shows because he's always just so thoughtful and clever and funny and so unwilling to compromise his own eloquence for any sort of access points.
Outside of the Fringe what are you working on?
I still have a relationship with The Mash Report but they're waiting to hear on the next series. I've recently filmed Jon Richardson's Ultimate Worrier so that's coming out soon.
And then there are a few other bits that I definitely can't say just yet. I'll definitely be taking this show on tour which will be nice. I've never brought my show to Dublin so I'm going to do that which I'm really excited about.
Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?
Smart. Queer. Sex. Relationships. Feminism.
Catherine Bohart: Lemon runs from 31st July - 25th August (not 13th) at 6pm at the Pleasance Courtyard (Upstairs). Book tickets here.