top of page

I TALK TO Maisie Adam

"I'm putting myself out there a bit more which has been daunting."

One of the standout debuts of 2018 was Maisie Adam's first show Vague which came two years after starting comedy and earned her a Best Newcomer nomination at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

It's no surprise then that she's back with a brand new hour and I caught up with Maisie to discuss how much she loves the Fringe, what her new show Hang Fire is all about and how she's found the twelve months.

Your debut seemed to go pretty well last year. How did you feel it went?

I honestly couldn't believe it. It was lovely. With it being my first one, I just wanted to go up and enjoy it. I didn't really know what the Fringe would like, I'd only been up twice and that was for So You Think You're Funny? which meant all I wanted to do was go up there and enjoy it, which I did.

After my first few shows I realised how lovely my audiences are, especially as my last preview was in front of three people. I liked my show and I knew it was a good show but I wasn't sure if I would get bums on seats so once I started seeing that I was doing alright for ticket sales, I started to relax and just enjoy my show more.

Edinburgh also gave me the opportunity to get on more mixed bills with people who I just think are brilliant and the best comics around. When people see them and enjoy you and say nice things, it's a proper pinch yourself moment. I've also done my first few TV bits, The Stand Up Sketch Show, Mock The Week and 8 Out of 10 Cats.

Were you always going to come back this year?

I think so. As soon as I started to realise that my show was doing well and it was selling out every day, the Amused Moose New Comic award and then the Comedy Awards nomination. I'm not an expert on Edinburgh but even I could tell that that was a good Edinburgh for my first run.

So I thought I'd be an idiot really to not build on that momentum that I managed to build up. I didn't want to take a year off. Also, I really loved Edinburgh, I had such a lovely time. A lot of my comedy friends were two weeks in and telling me they had enough but I absolutely loved it.

I couldn't wait to get back, it never ever felt like a chore. I'm just hoping for the same thing again!

How have you found the process of coming up with a new show this year?

A lot harder. With Vague, I'd been going for two years at that point so I had two years of material that I'd been working on to try and build in to my hour. The show was about me and my experiences which I find quite easy to talk about.

Where as this show is a bit of a bigger subject. It's about other people and my opinions on things. I'm putting myself out there a bit more which has been daunting. It's a bit like 'Difficult Second Album' syndrome because I had such a lovely debut that I definitely feel the pressure to match it.

Last year, the people who came to see my show were perhaps taking a punt on me, didn't know who I was and had maybe had an hour to kill at the Gilded Balloon. Whereas this year people are already buying tickets after seeing me last year. The bottom line is that people are coming to my show expecting something, which they didn't last year.

And you're in a bigger room this year?

Yes, it's just over twice the size. I was in the Wee Room last year which seats about 50 and I'm in the Billiard Room this year which is about 110... which is really daunting! My room was an absolute sauna as I'm sure you and anyone else who came to see it will remember, but what I quite liked about last year's room was that it was small and intimate.

Every show felt special because I was able to see my audience who are only sat a metre away. Talking about yourself is a very vulnerable thing to do and I loved being able to see my audience throughout. I'd love to maintain that relationship with the audience in a bigger room.

I'm also worried about whether or not I'll get bums on seats. It'll be harder to fill the room I suppose.

What can people expect from this year's show?

It's so difficult to talk about what the show is about without giving the big twist away. But it's about how quick we are to see that someone has made a mistake and brandish them as a bad person or a nasty person or an idiot.

I think you should be able to let somebody make a mistake and allow them the room to grow from it, acknowledge that they made a mistake and show that they've grown up since it. It stems from a specific case which I didn't realise I was involved in which went nationwide!

The show is saying that we should take things on a case by case basis and stop and think about the context. I think if you make a dickhead move at 23 are you also a dickhead when you're 50 because of that mistake you made over a quarter of a century ago.

Why have you called this year's show Hang Fire?

It's called that because I think we should hang fire on brandishing people as bad people or a nasty people or idiots without thinking if we could have found ourselves in that position. Could I have made that wrong choice?

You see it all the time. People will make one mistake, there's an outrage and the person involved often loses their job. I saw a clip of David Baddiel talking about Jo Brand and he questioned what it meant when people are outraged.

Often it doesn't mean that people are stomping around their house furious about what's happened, they just want to put a tweet out and make sure that they're heard. But the two are very different. With Twitter now, it's so easy to put yourself on a pedestal and say we're holier-than-thou and would never have said something similar.

It's one thing to listen back to something out of context, when you weren't in the room at the time and have an opinion on it. But of course it does happen the other way where someone does say something that is unacceptable full stop.

What was the biggest thing you learnt from doing last year's show?

I learn more by going and watching a lot of comedy. So I remember the year before last going up for the semi-final of So You Think You're Funny? which was right at the beginning of August and seeing loads of shows, and everyone was so enthusiastic because it was the beginning of the Fringe.

I then came back for the final towards the end of August and I saw some other shows and you could tell that some comics had been performing for 25 days. It started to feel like a recital and that was something I was very conscious of when I went to Edinburgh with my own show. I wanted to make sure that every show was as exciting and new and fresh for every single audience.

Those people who have come to see you on the 25th have paid exactly the same as people who came on the 4th and they shouldn't have to see that you're absolutely knackered and thinking of your September holiday.

It's such a privilege to go to the biggest arts festival in the world and perform there for a month doing your dream job! Which is why it blows my mind when I bump into people who go "I can't believe we're only two weeks in. I can't wait to get home." I love it, I feel like I'm on holiday the whole time that I'm there!

Who are you looking forward to seeing perform this year?

I absolutely love Rosie Jones and Suzi Ruffell, they're two of my favourites. I'm also really excited to see a play called Madame Ovary which is Rosa Hesmondhalgh's story about being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

We've just sat here and talked about what it's been like to write a comedy after such a great year, but imagine what it must be like having to write a play within what must have been a horrible and tumultuous year. And then put it out there for all to see. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Rosa has done.

I'll probably go and see Joe Sutherland and I'd love to see Olga Koch but we're on at a similar time so I'll have to catch one of her previews.

And you haven't got a day off which most comedians do?

No! And I didn't have one last year either and I didn't feel like I was missing one. I don't begrudge anyone who does, but I wouldn't know what to do with myself! I'm up there for the month and in my view it's only an hour of your day performing a show you've worked so hard on this show and have been previewing all over.

Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?

Shocking. Thoughtful. Nostalgic. Rude. Legal.

Maisie Adam: Hang Fire runs from 31st July - 26th August at 5pm at the Gilded Balloon Teviot (Billiard Room). Book tickets here.

bottom of page