Today marks the start of the 2021 Edinburgh Fringe, and while the world's biggest arts festival might be a good bit smaller this year, there are still some seriously interesting shows. Or some humorously interesting shows - you get the picture. How about an invite to Jen Ives's new WIP, for instance?
"The show is called PEAK TRANS and is a lighthearted, silly look at the state of trans rights in Britain right now," Ives explains. "As a trans woman myself, I wanted to do something about the seemingly growing (and worrying) popularity of the 'gender critical' movement, and how much of a flipping mess it all seems to be.
"The title PEAK TRANS is in reference to a blog that was set up by a gender critical activist, where people could share their 'Peak Trans' moments - e.g. the point in which they'd finally had enough of the 'trans agenda'. I thought it'd be funny to co-opt it, like I do with women's spaces."
Pow! And the space Ives co-opts from August 14th is at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. But right now we're taking a trip down south, back to late-2010s Brighton.
My first gig was upstairs at the Caroline Of Brunswick pub in Brighton about four years ago. It was an open mic night, run by a lovely woman named Maria. I had been stewing on giving stand-up a go for months, and in a dangerous cocktail of loneliness, drunkenness and mis-placed self-importance-ness, I emailed her and got a five-spot booked in.
The main thing I remember about the night is firstly going to the wrong venue, being late - and then having to run to the other one (for some reason there are about 10,000 venues in Brighton all called 'The Brunswick'). I can't remember exactly who was there - comedian William Stone was definitely around at the start.
I'm sure if I could go back and watch that first five, it'd be terrible. But at the time, it went much better than I had expected it would, and people encouraged me to continue. So I did.
Favourite show, ever?
I've had some really lush gigs recently at 21 Soho in London. They're a pretty new club, but have been doing great stuff since comedy came back. The one that really sticks in my mind though, was the last time I performed at The Bill Murray. I love how it feels like you're surrounded by the audience - almost like they're going to attack you. But in a nice way, with laughs and smiles.
The worst gig I ever did was a few years ago. I think it was called Comedy Rollercoaster. There were two audience members in (who left after my set). The MC did magic and had a joke foam brick that he would throw at audience members who didn't laugh at his jokes.
Which one person influenced your comedy life most significantly?
It's two people, sorry. Vic & Bob. They come as a set though, don't they? They were the first comedians I saw on TV who I felt like spoke directly to me, and not to any of my friends or family.
And who's the most disagreeable person you've come across in the business?
I come across a LOT of self-important dudes in black caps who think they're Bill Hicks-style 'truth tellers'. They like to sit on a stool and say "...what else". They're pretty bad to talk to in a green room.
Is there one routine/gag you loved, that audiences inexplicably didn't?
I used to do a little 'observational' bit about how I saw a red house gate recently. The general premise was that you don't see red house gates that often - and imagine having the audacity to paint your house gate red. It only ever worked once, and then never, ever again.
I realise that I'm maybe not selling my show that well right now, but I thought it was funny.
How were your lockdowns, creatively and generally?
I didn't enjoy lockdown at all, and really, really missed stand-up. But I did get a lot of writing / video making done. I also came around to the idea of online gigs eventually, and even started to enjoy them towards the end.
Any reviews, heckles or post-gig reactions stick in the mind?
I was once performing to a rowdy working men's club audience, and they weren't really listening to me at all. I told them that it reminded me of my childhood holidays to Pontins, and started to lead them into a rendition of Agadoo. It was a big mistake though, because they wouldn't stop singing it and I had to just wrap it up.
How do you feel about where your career is at, right now?
I'm really jazzed with where I am at the moment. I've been doing a lot of cool stuff, and been enjoying myself a lot on stage after the lockdown. I'm excited to bring this goofy show to Edinburgh, and hopefully many more places afterwards.