One random comedian, eight random questions; it's the ultimate test of funny person and fate. This week we doff our caps to Siân Docksey, the agile Belgian who's lined up a busy month.
On November 30th Siân graces new London night Clothes Horse Comedy, run by a couple of alt-comedy heroes - more on that in a minute. On the 22nd she's co-hosting long-running ideathon The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society. But first, on November 18-19th at Bloomsbury's Museum of Comedy, her new show is born.
"We Live in a Human Dream is my fully earnest attempt to impress an octopus and get it to like me," Docksey explains. "I was recently not invited to a friend's baby shower because I'm 'too negative' about climate crisis, which I've learned is off-putting to people bringing new humans onto our doomed, flammable planet."
"I took this quite personally because I actually really like my friends' kids (that's why the imminent eco-apocalypse makes me sad) and I'm pretty fun at parties I think, but maybe there's just no pleasing people and I'll have to be friends with octopuses instead. That's the show!"
Octopuses, now Random 8 - is she on an Inside No. 9-like quest for eightness greatness?
"My dream is to learn how to pole dance as things with too many legs," she says. "Octopus is the obvious choice: next I'm thinking of maybe a nervous little spider?"
In fact, pole dancing "stopped me completely losing my mind in lockdown," she reveals. "I got stranded in my parents' basement in Belgium for nearly a year - but luckily I had my pole with me so spent months spinning round in the void. I'm not a good enough pole dancer to pull off eight-legged combos yet, but if I could that would be cool."
It would. Now, speaking of handy household constructions; about this intriguingly-named new bash...
"The acts are trying out new stuff that's a mix of stand-up, sketch, character and experimental miscellany, it's so much fun to watch little baby birds of new weird ideas leave the nest for the first time, lovingly watched over by two of my absolute favourite comedy hawks."
And ACMS? "Baby birds of weird ideas flying out of the nest in every direction! All bird species! Broken eggs everywhere! Big messy delicious comedy omelette!"
Cracking! Siân Docksey, your Random 8 await:
What was your favourite TV show, growing up?
When I was maybe around 10 or 11 I used to sneak downstairs when I couldn't sleep and watch Red Dwarf with my dad who'd be up late watching it and eating cheese.
I liked the show but mainly I think it felt sneaky because it was this bonding thing between me and my dad - it also set up my lifelong addiction to cheese which I can't shake despite being fully lactose intolerant.
Otherwise I basically grew up on The Simpsons because it was one of the English-speaking shows we got on the Flemish TV channels. Whenever I see The Simpsons without Dutch subtitles I still find it weird.
Who's the most interesting person you've ever met?
Sasha Diamond who is a pole dancer training in Shaolin! Sasha worked nights as a stripper to put herself through classical ballet school, she won Stripper of the Year at the Sexual Freedom Awards 2019, and she teaches pole full-time while also studying Kung Fu. She's amazing!
She's also brilliantly witchy and understands human beings in all of our shadowy messiness, she can give you a Tarot reading while telling you about Bruce Lee's theories about the differences between Eastern and Western philosophy and showing you how to get into an upside-down split.
What's the greatest invention, ever?
The tuba! Who sat down one day and decided "I must make something that sounds EXACTLY like a 10 foot duck" ?! It's amazing that people spent years bending pipes around to achieve that exact sound.
Also I find it absolutely wild that the tuba can function like a bass guitar in a band, and I think bands should do it more. Like, have your absolute by-numbers emo/indie/alt-rock band, but where you'd normally have the Sexy Bassist who's the eye candy with the bare minimum musical skill, whack in a tuba player.
And then I can fantasise about them absolutely crushing my heart between their industrial-machinery-strength lungs, yippee.
Who are you most envious of?
Anyone who can speak Swedish. My Swedish flatmate is always talking about this amazing surrealist podcast where a man reviews potatoes or does a two-hour interview with a mushroom, but it's in Swedish which I don't understand so I'll never get to experience it. Or know for absolutely sure if this is even real, or something my flatmate made up to taunt me.
Is there a book or film that changed your life?
Chicken Run is the greatest piece of modern cinema.
It taught me that if you organise with other women you can resist having your bodies pulverised by the capitalist machine, and that most men are alright actually but they have their weird little ego journey to go through before they'll accept women in positions of leadership.
And also Mrs Tweedy's eye makeup is on point for the entire film - that's not a life-changing part of the film, but it is another objectively good thing about it.
What's your favourite phrase or expression?
"It's the end of the bean season" is a Belgian expression for the menopause, which sounds so gentle, soothing and nicely agricultural.
Frustratingly there isn't the equivalent for getting your period i.e. "it's the start of the bean season!" - or like, a bean-seasonal period tracking app which could help you through your menstrual cycle by suggesting nice recipes with lentils.
Your most interesting injury?
Weirdly for someone who basically crashes around reality colliding into things I haven't had that many injuries but I did get bitten by a spider! It left a cool mark on my forearm that looks like a chocolate chip cookie and I'm really proud of it.
What's the most extravagant thing you've ever done?
Probably this octopus show, upsettingly. Every year I swear I'm going to stop making my life difficult and do a straight stand-up show: no props, just me and a mic, black t-shirt, depression, lovely.
And then I found I've ordered fifty metres of tinsel and I'm figuring out how the audience could fire octopus penis into my brain. But hey! You can't necessarily choose* what kind of show you're going to do (*yes you can and I've chosen this, kill me. But also please come and see it.)
Siân Docksey: We Live in a Human Dream is at London's Museum of Comedy on November 18-19th. Info & Tickets