"I've tried to get people to do an impression of me because I'd love to know what it's like!"
Without an Edinburgh hour under her belt, Yorkshire-born impressionist Steff Todd has already secured a part in one of BBC One's biggest new sitcoms, amassed over a million views online and only the other week went viral with her Love Island impressions.
But Steff is no stranger to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe having performed in 2017 as part of CKP’s Lunchtime Special and last year as part of a sellout double-bill of stand up. She has also supported the likes of Sara Pascoe, Dave Gorman, Rob Delaney and Iain Stirling on stage.
Speaking with Steff, she reveals to me the impressions that have made the show, which Kardashian is harder to do than the others and why she loves that her fanbase are mainly women.
Why have you decided to make your debut in 2019?
I feel like because I did the two hander last year, which was half-an-hour each, it's just the next step. Although some days I'm scared and question if I should really be doing it this year but I've got to push myself. You never feel ready even though I've been working on it since I got back last year... what a geek!
Did that two-hander last year give you the confidence you needed to give the hour a go this year?
Yeah! I remember last year thinking how on earth was I going to do half an hour? I'd only ever done 20 minute sets on the circuit and even they felt long! But I managed it and it was really fun because I shared the hour with a friend and we were at the same stage - not ready to make our debut but still wanting to be part of the Fringe.
Also, because you're not really doing your show, there's no pressure and you can experiment. You can try new material and I got to try out lots of different impressions. So by the end of it I'd be looking at my watch and I'd be over 30 minutes which was great!
When did you first discover that you could do impressions?
When I was younger, I used to watch The Vicar of Dibley and I used to copy Alice and go "Ooh Vicar" which was nothing right but my mum was like "That sounds like her!" and when I went on holiday as a child I'd meet a Scottish child and come back speaking with a Scottish accent!
The first person I started doing a proper impression of was Cheryl when she was on The X Factor about four years ago which is when I put the video online and then I put a video up of Katie Price and when people started commenting on how funny it was I thought "Ooh I've got something here."
You've called the show Reality Check, why that title?
I've called it that because I'm tying in where all these shows - that I'm not ashamed to say I watch - tie in to my life. For example, when I talk about the Kardashians, I also talk about my family. And when I talk about Love Island I'll cover dating. I have a boyfriend now but there are lots of dating stories I can tell.
Sometimes when I watch Love Island part of me watches it and goes "I'm so glad that's not me."
Sticking with Love Island, do you feel the pressure every year to really nail the impressions of the islanders?
It's really hard when you don't know them or their personalities very well. Last year, it took me ages to get Scottish Laura. But once I got her, I couldn't stop doing it!
What other impressions can we expect?
So there'll be Love Island and the Kardashians - I can do all of them apart from Khloe! I'm still working on that one. That's my hardest impression but I really want to do it because otherwise audiences will wonder why I'm missing her out!
I do all of the reality show judges, past and present, so that's Amanda Holden, Sharon Osbourne, Cheryl, Paloma Faith and even Ayda! And there's a bit where I go "But what if Katie Price was judge?" so that I can bring other impressions in. Oh and I ask them to say what they think about me which is weird!
I also really wanted to put people together in this show who would never have a chat, so I've put Gemma Collins and Theresa May together so that Gemma can teach her all about confidence.
Who's your favourite person to impersonate?
I feel like because I've done Cheryl, Amanda and Sharon Osbourne for so long it's got to be them. I feel like they're a part of me and I'm able to improvise with them where as other people like Holly Willoughby and Lorraine Kelly, I can only say certain words.
I also really love doing Emma Willis because she's a lot of fun and really hyper. Katie Price, there's so much you can do with her and the same with Gemma Collins because they're such big characters. It's funnier because you have an angle, like Gemma being a diva.
Has anyone you've ever done an impression of got in contact with you?
I never tag people in the videos because I hate upsetting or offending people. I wouldn't want them to think that I'm mocking them because I do impressions of people that I really like.
But someone tagged Charlotte Crosby under one of my videos and she liked it and then followed me. She didn't say anything but she wouldn't have done that if she hated it!
Another time someone tagged Ellie and Izzi from Gogglebox and they retweeted it saying how funny it was and they actually came to see one of my shows and met me afterwards and told me that it was really flattering.
I've tried to get people to do an impression of me because I'd love to know what it's like!"
Who are you hoping will come to watch the show?
Most of the people who follow me on Instagram are women which is what I want. I don't want to alienate people but I love seeing an audience full of young girls laughing.
And if you don't watch Love Island or don't watch the Kardashians it's fine because hopefully the material is funny and I move quite quickly from one thing to another. Hopefully there's something for everyone but there are going to be a lot of impressions based on reality shows.
What was the biggest thing you learnt last year?
That I can do a long time on stage! Also, to give yourself a day off. Last year I didn't because we both thought it would look messy on the poster. So this year I have given myself a day off. I have to!
Also, last year I performed at 5pm this year I'm performing at 2pm and that's good because it kind of stops you from going out!
What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh this year?
I'm looking forward to performing every day. I'm really excited about my show and I'll put my hands up and say I might not be the coolest comedian but I feel really pleased and proud that I'm talking about things that I like. With my show there's no message, it's just light-hearted jokes and fun.
I love it when people do have a message in their shows but I'm not doing that. I just want people to come and have a really fun time.
Outside of the Fringe, what are you working on?
I've recently finished filming on Scarborough which is Derren Litten's new sitcom which was amazing because I'd never done anything like that before. I was working with Jason Manford and Claire Sweeney and I was quite nervous, but all the cast and crew were amazing and the two weeks of filming went too quickly!
I'm really excited to watch it. There's a rumour that it'll be on in the autumn but that's not confirmed yet.
Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?
Gag packed. Celebrity impressions. Fun.
Steff Todd: Reality Check runs from 1st - 25th August (not 12th) at 2pm at Just the Tonic at the Caves (Just Out of the Box). Book tickets here.