Danielle Ward is a performer and writer who has been working in comedy since 2004. We catch up with her below...
Hi Danielle. How is your 2015 going? Broken your New Year Resolutions yet?
2015 is so far great. I started it in Hovet in Norway, sat in a homemade ice bar. And I went husky dog sledding which was incredible.
I'm not really one for 'resolutions' although I did attempt 'Veganuary'. I don't eat mammals, birds or dairy anyway, but eggs... man alive I love eggs. And I'd have no problem with a chicken eating my own unfertilized eggs, so I see it as a fair swap. And also seafood. I'm not yet empathetic enough to feel bad about eating clams.
Ha ha. You're set to perform as part of the Vault Festival in London... but not as yourself. Could you explain who and what people can expect?
The Vault Festival show is a funny collection of 'sexy' songs and bits of stand-up with a thinly veiled feminist theme that becomes overt by the end. So if you don't like musical comedy or indeed women, it's probably not for you.
All the songs are written on Garageband (best thing ever. Thanks Steve Jobs!) and played through an iPad. There's a heavy hip-hop influence but also pop and a beat poem/short story about an unhappy marriage that Lou Reed's sound engineer saw in Edinburgh and said Lou would have of approved.
I'm performing as Dani Frankenstein. She's more my Ziggy Stardust than my Lee Nelson. To be honest, if I could get my hair looking that good without a wig I'd probably have just done it as myself. Also I really regret not taking a stage name so I'm hoping this one sticks.
I can't do accents except Nottingham - where I was born - but it made the act sound like 'Sleaford Mods doing a Colin Hoult impression'. So it's really just my voice. But louder. And way more sexually aggressive than I would ever be. Oh Christ. This all makes me sound like the new Dapper Laughs!
The show blurb says Dani will 'help guide the modern lover'. Er, is this a Barry White type thing then?
There will be a huge anatomical diagram behind me illustrating all the three different ways to do some sex. People may take photos of it for reference.
No, the 'guide for the modern lover' was to make it sound like the show had some sort of theme. Rather than 'Danielle Ward puts on a wig and sings songs because she misses being in a band'. I loved being in a band. It's the best. They (The Loves) all hate me however. It was a messy split. As all good band break-ups should be.
Talking of music, you're known for collaborating with Martin White - particularly on shows like the much loved Karaoke Circus - does it feel strange to be doing something musical without him?
Thanks pal. Karaoke Circus was great wasn't it? I'm sure we'll do a one off soonish, it was so so SO much work though.
It's not that strange, because I've been in bands since I was 16. What is strange is why I've not done something like this sooner.
Will we be hearing any more of Dani after Vault?
Yes, I'm taking a show to the Edinburgh Fringe. It'll be part Vault show and part new stuff. And I'll be bringing my trusty battered old pink Dan Electro guitar with me. No ukuleles in my show, mate.
Dani has her own unique musical style, but if we were to turn on your MP3 player now what would we find playing?
I bought Yeezus [by Kanye West] for research and was surprised to discover it's actually incredible - even if some of the lyrics are a bit fruity for my tastes. I'm obsessed with it. Black Skinhead is my walk on music for the show.
There's also loads of Bowie, I love Bowie. I love Bowie so hard. Luke Haines for all your murder/wrestling needs; Carter USM; Prince; Add N to (X); Salt-n-Pepa; Elton John; Scott Walker; The Velvet Underground; The Monks; Kate Bush; and Dusty Springfield.
Nice. The comedy circuit has changed dramatically over the last decade. What do you think the biggest changes have been?
When I started doing stand-up in 2004 I had no idea it would lead to a career. Of course now it's probably something you can discuss with an advisor while choosing your GCSEs. Comedy has boomed hasn't it. Which is great, as people can now do it and earn a living even if they're not on the telly.
The '2013 fourth wave feminist revolution ©' was brilliant - Bridget Christie's show was one of the best hours I've seen. And comics like Katherine Ryan, Sara Pascoe, Roisin Conaty and Aisling Bea are more often than not the funniest person on a panel show.
But also there was a lot less of the old "let's do a joke about beating up our wives". I absolutely don't believe in censoring comics at all, but what you say on stage doesn't happen in a bubble, it's a complicated issue. If an audience sees enough comics - average "I'm just a regular bloke/girl like you" comics doing misogynist, racist, homophobic, disablist or whatever material, with no context beyond "it's funny if I say awful things about this minority, but I'm just like you mate" it becomes part of everyday dialogue.
Frankie Boyle isn't claiming to be like you. He hates you. Status is everything in comedy. It gives 'unsavoury' material context.
Though let's not forget some of the biggest cunts I know are fans of Family Guy.
To be honest, we go through so many ideas in the brainstorming sessions that I forget what actually makes it to air... I think in the series that we recorded before Christmas we asked Dan Tetsell if he'd let his daughter go on a magical adventure with The Snowman, knowing the next day her heart will break when he melts. That was fairly silly.
My favourite guests are the right wing journalists, you can ask them anything. They're very funny and happy to say exactly what they think. Dominic Lawson has been brilliant every time we've had him on.
Whilst the Radio 4 show is a lot of fun, it's your brilliantly raucous and un-censored panel show podcast Do The Right Thing we love the most. It's been a year since the last series of that... are you going to be releasing any more episodes?
Yes. I believe it'll be out not too long after the current series of Pappy's Flatshare Slamdown (our label mates). We've recorded four or five for the new series. I think Michael Legge, Margaret Cabourn-Smith and I have hit our stride in knowing the show and each other as a panel.
They are so much fun to make. But no one gets paid and they're recorded like a professional radio set up so that's why we only do a few a year. It's a huge commitment but we do it because we love the internet, not because we want the internet's money. That said, do support the live recordings. If no one bought tickets we'd have to stop.
Talking of formats, if you could make any show for TV - but not a panel show - what would you create?
Well it'd be Inside No 9 wouldn't it? But someone has already done that. Probably any one of the three projects I've got knocking about at the moment. I wish I'd come up with American Horror Story. If Jennifer Salt is reading this (loved you in Sisters with Margot Kidder btw) I'm free to come and write Series 5. That show is so far up my street it practically lives in my loft.
What's up next for you after the Vault Festival?
I'm writing a play for Anna Crilly and Katy Wix; a couple of things in development; something is sort of happening with Gutted, a screenplay about a women's fitness bootcamp; and of course all those blinking Do The Right Thing scripts. We start recording again on 17th March.
'Dani Frankenstein - Shut Up & Dance' is at the Vault Festival (near Waterloo, London) on the 18th to 22nd February 2015. For a limited time (so book quick) you can get 50% off tickets by entering the code DANCE50. Show details and tickets