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I TALK TO Evelyn Mok

Having made her debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year and winning Best Comedy Newcomer at the inaugural Pleasance Indie Awards, it's no surprise that Evelyn Mok is back with a brand new hour, Bubble Butt.

© James Deacon

Before we talk about the Fringe, how did you first get into comedy?

Basically, I was raised on comedy. I watched a bunch of TV when I was a kid and I got into Adam Sandler movies quite early. I think that's probably because his comedy speaks to kids really well. He's a really silly guy and also the first comedian where I understood that he had his own voice. No matter how silly it was he had a distinct voice.

So after seeing his films I discovered SNL and then everything I watched for a while was American comedy and then I realised that that's what I wanted to do. I thought that they were actors. I didn't realise that they were comedians.

What made you come to UK?

I started comedy in Sweden and it's a great comedy scene but I think I reached a place where I just didn't know where to go. So I thought that maybe I needed a break from the Swedish scene so I thought I'd come to England which was the closest thing. I'd always wanted to do comedy in English because I'm basically an anglophile.

I thought I'd try it out for a semester because at the time I was doing a university course so I had the opportunity to do an Erasmus exchange through the EU and ended up in Roehampton University.

But then I just enjoyed it so much that I ended up staying because the english scene was bigger and so much more challenging. Because there is so much comedy here and so many comedians that the English audience were just a bit more savvy. That was what was enjoyable because I learnt so much and grew so much within a year here. Which would have been two years in Sweden.

When did you first hear about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

In 2012 and it was around that time that I was moving to London. Before London I went to the Fringe just to check it out and see what it was about. It was amazing! I think the first time you actually visit the Fringe, it's just mind blowing because there's so much of everything.

It felt at that time that you could see anything and everything. I was there for a week and the next year I did it and it was the most I've every grown as a comic. People always say that you don't really get the results from the Fringe until you come back from the Fringe. I definitely felt like after that first Fringe, and that's probably the only Fringe I've felt that way.

Since then you returned every year and last year you debuted your first hour. What was that like?

It was really fun, very challenging but it had been a long time coming because I'd waited because I had some personal stuff that I was going through, which in fact I talk about in the show.

My personal life affected my comedy a lot so comedy wasn't as fun in that period but I remember last year it was just fun. You're doing this every day for a month and each audience is so different and depending on the day the show was a really fun show or a really depressing TED Talk. That was a big challenge to deal with.

If you look at it statistically, if you're performing for 25 days, every night being a smash hit, isn't going to happen. You're going to have duds so I think that was quite difficult to get my head around.

Also, my show was stand-up, but it wasn't a pure stand-up show because there was a lot of focus on narrative. After day 10 I was really tired of having to do it the same way. I wish I could have broken it up a bit more.

Were you always going to come back this year?

Well yes. I mean, I'm probably always going to come back to the Fringe, but I would have loved to have had a year off. I think honestly, that's probably a better way of doing it. Having a year off and having two years to do a show. It's just this crazy cycle.

When did you start working on this year's show?

So late! I probably shouldn't say this, but I've been thinking about it since the end of last year but it wasn't until May that I started to put the pieces together. Which is really late. So I'm looking forward to seeing what this is going to be!

Why did you decide to call the show Bubble Butt?

It's because we have to name the Fringe show so early before we know what it's about. Because I've been losing some weight this year, I thought I was going to talk about that, but so far I haven't actually written that many jokes about that.

Also, I've always loved the expression "Bubble Butt" because it's such a funny, dumb insult.

What has the show ended up being about?

The show is about having uncomfortable conversations and sitting with the uncomfortableness. With everything that's happened this past year, I feel like it's the result of not having the uncomfortable conversations that's hit everyone in the butt now.

The #MeToo movement has been an uncomfortable conversation that we were trying to push away and now it's like "No, we have to have it." So the show is how we deal with sensitive subjects now.

I believe in respectful discourse and political correctness but then there's also the other side of it where it seems that as soon as there's a word that's maybe triggering or a topic that makes people uncomfortable, there's this reaction of wanting to shut it down instead of actually having a nuanced discussion about the subject.

How have the previews been going?

Well because I'm so behind this year they've been interesting. I've basically put most of my energy into trying to work out the most contentious bit of my show which is finally sort of working.

But then I have to fill in with all the other stuff so the previews have been good but by now I should have a full show to preview but it's still half work-in-progress at the moment.

Who are you looking forward to seeing this year?

Ooh... so many! There are so many debuts that are going to be so good. I like Sindhu Vee, Sarah Keyworth, Catherine Bohart, Rosie Jones. I also love Jordan Brookes who's coming back.

I live with Phil Ellis and I know how his show is going so it's going to be fun to see what he's going to do because he's such a silly man. One of my favourite people. Chris Betts who's also someone I live with, he has a show called Chris Betts vs the Audience which is basically him arguing with the audience and he'll argue for and against anything. So you never know what he's going to argue and the audience always think the opposite of him.

But also Sean McLoughlin, Jamali Maddix, Pierre Novellie.

Outside of the Fringe, what are you working on?

I'm working on a pilot which we're finally getting to pitch now. But they want the pitch in August! Hopefully I can get my show into a good state so that the weekend before the Fringe I can do the changes on the script that are needed.

After the Fringe I'm going to start developing another pilot and then I'm going to work on a short film which I'm excited about. I also want to go to the States to check out the comedy scene there.

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

It's gonna get uncomfortably funny.

Evelyn Mok: Bubble Butt runs from 1st - 26th August at 6pm at The Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance One). Book tickets here.


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