Last year at the Fringe, Brexit was high on the agenda for many comedians and this year Gráinne Maguire returns to the Fringe with a show about what it’s like to be an immigrant in the UK post-Brexit.
Brexit was high on the agenda for many a comedian last year at the Fringe and this year Gráinne Maguire will explore what it’s like to be an immigrant in the UK post-Brexit in her new hour, Gráinne with a Fada.
Once again, she will also be bringing her popular monthly night and podcast What Has The News Ever Done For Me? to the Fringe for a daily lunchtime treat.
You’re back this year with another Fringe show. What keeps you coming back year after year?
It’s just so brilliant. It’s one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world. You get to gig three times a day. You get to see some of the best comedy from all over the world. You get to hang out with your friends for a month. It’s brilliant.
How did you first get into comedy?
What happened was that I always wanted to do stand up but I was at University in Dublin, and Dublin is a very small town and everybody knows everybody so I thought I wouldn’t have the guts to do it in Dublin because I’m going to be rubbish when I start.
So I didn’t want people to go “Oh my God. Gráinne thinks she’s a comedian now!” So I moved to London, did a stand up comedy course and I just stayed. I love London. It’s such an exciting city with so much to do and see and then I just love stand up. The stand up community. The excitement of gigging every night. I just loved it, so I’ve been here ever since.
What’s this year’s show all about?
It’s all about personas. Different personas that comedians have. Different personas that politicians have. And it’s about being an EU immigrant in London after Brexit which has been interesting.
I’ve lived in London for 10 years, but English people are so very different to Irish people. It’s just been very interesting watching England cut its nose off to spite David Cameron’s face.
Why have you chosen Gráinne with a Fada as the title?
So the fada is the accent over the A in my name. So it’s about insisting that people spell my name properly (it’s at this point that I make a conscious effort to do so). I thought everyone would know that’s it a play on “Liza with a Z” but absolutely nobody has picked up on that. So I think my core audience is people who know quite a lot about Irish spelling and gay men.
So those two audiences are who I’m targeting with my title.
How long have you been working on this show for?
What usually happens is that you do Edinburgh in August and you have two months where you nap and watch lots of DVDs. Then sort of around October/November you start to try out new material. It usually comes to some sort of shape by May and then by now it’s just about working it and getting the order right. Fingers crossed that by the 1st of August it’ll be ready to go.
How have the previews been going?
Really good. I’m really really enjoying it. I’ve been doing lots of gigs outside London which is lovely because I get to see more of England and Britain than I usually see. It’s just been lots of fun. I’m in Cornwall at the minute and I’ve been doing gigs down here which have been brilliant.
They’re really nice audiences. A lot of my show is taking the piss out of English people and down in Cornwall they have a very strong Cornish identity as opposed to an English identity, so they love it!
Do you have anyone helping you with your show?
The majority of my friends are stand up comedians so it’s really brilliant being able to run through stuff with friends and then getting notes. There are so many amazing female comedians doing Edinburgh this year and a lot of them are my best friends so it’s really brilliant to get their feedback.
The Edinburgh hour is quite a luxury for a comedian isn’t it?
It’s the best! Because what usually happens if you’re doing a gig is that you have to convince the audience that you’re their style of comedy. Comedy is so weird. No one would ever go “I love music” and then go out and not know whether they’re seeing a country band, a pop singer or a jazz musician.
But when you go to a comedy night, you could have so many different types of comedian on the same bill and you have to hope that enough of the people in the room will like your style of comedy. What’s so brilliant about Edinburgh is that they’ve decided that they want to come and see you.
So they’re kind of already on board. It’s just the best feeling. It’s so lovely to have that legroom to work on ideas and talk about things that really matter to you. It’s such a luxury.
As well as Gráinne with a Fada you’ve got another show up at the Fringe this year, What Has the News Ever Done for Me? What’s that show about?
That's where every day, three comedians bring in a news story that they think is the most important and they each have two minutes to argue why their story is the most important. Then the audience vote at the end.
It’s a fun way of talking about the news. Because sometimes people can feel very serious and po faced but the whole point of the show is that people take the piss out of each other’s stories. “Who cares about the NHS?! Spice Girl reunion is more important!” - for example.
It’s a more light-hearted way of looking at the news which is always fun.
Do you know which comedians you’re going to have on?
They are all booked. But what will happen is, by the second week. Half of them will have colds. Half of them will be flyering. So I need to have a lot of standbys.
What are you most looking forward to about the Fringe this year?
I’m just really looking forward to doing my show and I’m really looking forward to gigging loads. I’ve bought this 101 Things to See in Edinburgh because I’m a real local history nerd so I’m bringing that with me and I’m determined to tick all the things off the list.
Anyone in particular you’re looking forward to seeing when you’re up there?
I’m really looking forward to seeing Pippa Evans who is absolutely brilliant. One of my favourite ever comedians. Eleanor Tiernan is fantastic. I’m really looking forward to seeing Stephen Bailey’s show.
There’s just so many amazing comedians who are just on the tip of being all over the television so I’m really looking forward to seeing them whilst they’re still my friends. Before they’re too busy to hang out with me.
Over your four years at the Fringe, what’s been the biggest thing you’ve learnt?
That’s such a good question. I think the most important thing I’ve learnt is that the audience isn’t interested in jokes. They’re interested in you. And the more “you” you can be on stage, and the more honest, then the easier it is. And that’s what I’m trying to be this year.
Lots of my other shows have been me taking about things but then this show I’m trying to just be me. This is me. This is my personality. I’m Irish. I love attention. This is what I think about Brexit... and I think that’s what people like.
They like to see someone being honest. The more honest you are, the more interesting the show is to the audience.
Outside of the Fringe, what are you working on?
I do comedy writing as well. So I’ve just finished writing on 8 Out of 10 Cats and I write for The Last Leg which is one of the nicest places I’ve ever worked. Sometimes I’m there on the Friday so I come in and read the scripts and I’m just “This script is incredible” and you still have to suggest jokes but I’m like “Would anybody like some tea?"
Finally, how would you sum up your show this year in just five words?
Gráinne Maguire tells jokes well.