Susan Calman answers Punchline’s Burning Questions

12 Aug

Susan Calman - Photo by Steve UllathorneWhat is the best advice for a new performer in Edinburgh?

Concentrate on the show.  Agents, PR’s, industry will try to put pressure on you to win awards or get reviews but you have to have a show that you like and are comfortable with first.  If you don’t enjoy performing the show and you realise that you have to say it every night for 28 performances you will learn to hate it and yourself.  The show matters, every audience member matters.   if you don’t storm the fringe the first time you go there, don’t worry.  It’ll be there next year, and the year after.  One day you will storm it.  When the time is right.

What is the best advice for a new festival goer?

Bring a cagoule and a jumper.  Always carry a bottle of water with you.  Make sure you know the locations of the toilets in every venue, and have a back up toilet in mind just in case.   See a show from someone you know, take a chance on someone you don’t, then wander to the Free Fringe/Festival and take a punt on something there.  A hidden gem might be found in an unlikely place.

What do you have to have in your fridge during August?

Water.  Bottles and bottles of water.  And cheese.  Sometimes I crave cheese when I’ve finished performing and I carve off a large chunk to munch on in bed.  Sexy I know.

What is the weirdest after-show comment you have had from an audience member?

An excitable audience member once asked me on a date after the show.  That’s a tricky dynamic.  She clearly enjoyed the show and I didn’t want to disappoint her but I am legally married and therefore unable to do such things.  I gave her a firm hand shake, thanked her for coming the show but politely declined her offer.

Which living person would you like to spot in your audience?

Any of Helen Mirren, Tig Nataro, Joan Collins or Adele.  I would like to be all of their friends.

What is the best non-Fringe thing about the city of Edinburgh?

I wandered up the Royal Mile the other night. It was late, there was a mist blowing across the road and it was quite simply gorgeous.  Sometimes it’s easy to run around seeing shows and not look up to see how beautiful the actual building are. Edinburgh is a gorgeous place with lovely people living in it.

How do you relieve Fringe cabin fever?


I go to the gym.  I have a personal trainer who makes me cry in the mornings.  I love going there because no one tries to flyer you or tell me about their show.  Everyone is too concerned about doing some press ups.  For an hour a day I work out until I feel like being sick, what could be more fun than that?

Who or what last made you laugh like a hyena at the Fringe?

I saw the Birthday Girls two years ago and I loved their show.  It was a perfect late night sketch mash up thing that was so much fun.  They made me hoot a lot.  And they are lovely women as well which is terribly annoying.

Tell us about your 2016 show.

It’s my tenth year at the fringe and the show is about what kinds of expectations an audience might have of me.  People know me from radio 4 but may not have seen me live on stage and it can be a bit of a surprise.  This is, without question, the most consistently funny show I’ve written with the most fun in it.  It’s also political (I can’t help myself) but fundamentally funny.

What are the best shows at the Fringe apart from yours?

I haven’t seen a lot of shows yet but I’d always recommend Sarah Kendall, Sofie Hagen, Felicity Ward, Lucy Porter, Bridget Christie and Showstoppers.

When you go home and your friends say “How was Edinburgh?”, what will you say?

Fabulous.  I got to perform at the the greatest arts festival in the world.  Who could want more?


Catch Susan Calman: The Calman Before the Storm at 6.20pm at the Pleasance Courtyard until 28 August.



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