A Lesson In How To Be Funny With Stevie Martin

A Lesson In How To Be Funny With Stevie Martin


Can anyone be funny? We spoke to comedian and writer Stevie Martin to get the low down on lols, imposter syndrome and her brand new solo show, Vol. 1…

How do you become a stand up comedian?

It feels like there are two main ways people become comedians: because it’s something they’ve always dreamed of, or by accident. I fall into the latter camp. When I was at university, my friend’s boyfriend was in the university sketch troupe (The Durham Revue) and they were auditioning. I said I didn’t want to do it. Then I got quite drunk, did the audition drunk, got in, had a lovely two years but couldn’t see it as a career path so became a journalist, then three years later realised I missed doing it so much that I started a sketch group on the side of my 9-5. Now I’m a comedian, but I never say I’m a comedian because I find it incredibly embarrassing. I say I’m a writer which is true, just not the WHOLE truth.

Can you force funny AKA can anyone be funny?

I think anyone can be funny, but being “funny” on stage is definitely an art form that’s completely different from being a great laugh in the pub. Audiences are ruthless and totally changeable – so much depends on the vibe in the room, rather than the actual material. In Edinburgh last year, I performed Vol. 1 every night for a month and every single night the room would respond differently to different bits. If I mess up a joke during a short ten-minute set at a mixed bill gig (with lots of different comedians), it takes a long time to gain an audience’s confidence back and make them laugh again. If I come out really strong, I can stutter over a bunch of lines later on and it won’t affect anything because I’ve already got their confidence. I find that stuff really interesting and, when you get it right, it’s definitely the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done. And I once held my breath for a minute in exchange for ten pogs (I nearly fainted, I was eight, it was exhilarating).

Where do your ideas come from?

I always felt like an imposter because in my head I should be sat 9-5 writing, like when on a deadline for an article. Thing is, I can go ages without having any good ideas at all, and then in one night write half an hour of material that works, without any idea where it’s come from. I don’t know about anyone else’s brain, but my brain works in bursts – I just have to arrange my life so that I’m able to catch the bursts when they come out. That sounds gross….

The thing that gives me the most inspiration for ideas is watching other shows, not just comedy but plays, musicals, any sort of performance. For some reason, seeing someone doing something on a stage just unlocks ideas, and those ideas are never anything to do with what I’ve just seen. I think everyone has their own way, and every way is much more annoying and difficult than you presume it will be. It’s very rare that I’ll suddenly think of a fully formed joke or sketch, I usually brainstorm until something pops up that makes me think “Oooh that would be fun to do” and then it either is, or I perform it to silence in which case, into the “Let’s never think about that again” box it goes.

How would you sum up your first solo show, Vol. 1?

The idea is that it’s an hour of beginnings for all types of shows. From horror plays to stand-up, to the first few minutes of a séance. Nothing outstays it’s welcome and it’s basically all jokes and me throwing myself around for the audience’s entertainment.

Why should we come and see it?

Because it’s pure escapism, I won’t be mentioning Brexit or Donald Trump, and because of the sheer volume and variety of jokes I’m genuinely convinced that everyone will laugh AT LEAST twice. MINIMUM.

What advice would you give an aspiring comedian?

Book a gig, or put on a night with a few mates in a comedy-friendly room above a pub and just do it. The first time you do it, if you’re anything like me, you will try to cancel four times and your friend who runs the gig will refuse to allow you to cancel and then you’ll go to the toilet 700 times and not be able to eat anything all day. Then you’ll do it and feel like someone just injected the sun into your heart because, even if nobody laughs, YOU DID IT. And the next time will slightly (very slightly) better, and then the next time and the next time until you’re a year in and you only go to the toilet 452 times.

How do you start a comedy group?

There are lots of groups on Facebook, but I feel like if you want to start a comedy group, you need to have a relationship with the people you’re working with. I was in a group with two people I knew very well and it was still incredibly difficult at times. A lot of shouting and a lot of tension.

The best bet is to do a comedy course, or some sort of class, so you get to meet other people and, crucially, see if they have the same sense of humour as you do. There’s a really great improvised comedy course in Hackney called the Free Association which spawns a lot of sketch groups and is full of creative people who don’t necessarily want to devote their entire lives to improv, but certainly want to create fun stuff. The Soho Theatre run great comedy courses too.

Is it hard going solo after being part of a sketch group?

In some ways yes, but in some ways no. It took longer for me to comfortable being on stage by myself than it did with two other people, and if I balls up there’s nobody to bail me out (I’m very bad at learning lines I’ve written. Other people’s lines are fine. Mine are not). But on the other hand, when I was in a group, every idea had to be vetted by two separate people before it went in. Now it’s just me. Sure, that means that new material nights (where comedians test out material they’ve never said aloud to another human before) are a lot scarier, but it means that the finished show feels so much more satisfying because it all came from you. You’re not quietly thinking “Well that would have been funnier if we’d gone for my excellent banjo joke there”.

How did Massive Dad come about?

Liz and I were both in the Durham Revue, both tried to get normal jobs and then both missed comedy and couldn’t stop talking about how we’d love to do it. Tessa was in the year below us at university, and in the Durham Revue the year after we left, so we knew of her and thought she was very funny so approached her tentatively. Before long, we were rehearsing and writing in my office after I’d clocked off for the day and doing little gigs in pubs around London. I wouldn’t have been able to do my first ever gig alone, it was hard enough doing it alone after two years of doing it with other people! I would have melted into a small puddle.

What three women would you urge everyone to follow right now?

I love Beth McColl, she’s a writer who tweets at @imteddybliss and always makes me laugh, @meganamram co-wrote The Good Place and is really really funny (obviously) and also Lou Sanders @LouSanders who is one of my favourite comedians and tweets loads of really silly one liners.

Who’s the funniest person you know?

My sister, Gina, makes me laugh in a way that could never be explained or translated to other people. Same with my boyfriend. And all of my close friends. I feel like life is too short not to surround yourself with people that make you need to go to the toilet because you’re laughing so hard about nothing.

Stevie Martin’s debut show Vol.1 runs at London’s Soho Theatre from 17th-20th April. Get tickets here.

The Underbelly Festival will also see Stevie debut her second solo show, Hot Content! More info on dates and tickets can be found here.

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7 things you need to know about Magic Mike Live

7 things you need to know about Magic Mike Live


Sometimes in this business, you have to make sacrifices. Like previewing Channing Tatum‘s Magic Mike Live show and reporting back, just so you know what you’re getting into. It was tough, but we did it, and here are a few thoughts about the show we think you should know.

Channing Tatum is in all of us

Let’s get the disappointment out of the way: Channing doesn’t perform in the show, though he did grace us with his presence on press night, and even twerked in the finale, so we didn’t feel too disappointed. However, as the brilliant (female) MC Sophie Linder-Lee reminded us during the 90-minute performance: Channing is in all of us. Yes, yes he is.

You make it rain unicorn money

Actual money is SO 2017. Cold hard pink unicorn cash is where it’s at here, and you can make it rain as much as you want.

The cast literally climb everything including the audience (unless you say unicorn)

Let’s get one thing straight: this is an extension of the movie about male strippers. As such, the Magic Mike crew will literally climb all over you, and they made a valiant effort to give everyone in the audience a lap dance. They even pull some audience members on stage and basically simulate sex, though they ask their permission first. However, if any of this makes you feel uncomfortable, there is a safe word: unicorn. Alternatively, there’s a perfectly good Agatha Christie play up the road.

There’s a hidden person you won’t notice but absolutely makes the show

There is a hero of a woman who steps out of the shadows every time the men peel of their shirts (which happens quite a lot) to single handedly catch all of the clothes before they hit the floor. Didn’t drop a thing.

There’s a shit waiter who isn’t really a waiter

We asked for some wine when we sat down, and the waiter looked really perplexed and sent for his colleague instead. Spoiler alert: he wasn’t actually a waiter, he was pretending to be. In fact, he was ‘Michelangelo’, better known as ‘Mike’, the star of the show. The storyline (yes, there is one) goes that he is sent to MC Sophie to answer her prayers, and become the ultimate stripper.

There are some quite cute moments

Yes there are plenty of innuendos and six packs, but there are some weirdly cute moments in the show. Like when they make the audience slow dance to Ed Sheeran, or the cast serenade women from the audience (they sing, tap dance and play the guitar, who knew?).

It’s rather feminist

Yep, we were surprised too. But from the MC’s funny quips (‘I can be a feminist and like glitter’) to references to the #MeToo movement and equal pay, to the way the dancers connected with the women in the audience, that felt quite feminist indeed.

Now go forth and enjoy.

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Why did Tom Hiddleston upload a video of himself crying to Twitter?

Why did Tom Hiddleston upload a video of himself crying to Twitter?


Who hurt our sweet summer child?

tom hiddleston's twitter video
James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock

If Tom Hiddleston is the James Bond of your heart and you can’t wait till his standalone Loki TV series next year, have we got news for you. The Avengers actor puzzled fans when he posted a very bizarre video to Twitter, without any explanation. The mesmerising clip, which showed Tom Hiddleston walking through a graffiti-covered tunnel towards the camera, instantly caught the internet’s attention as he flexed his acting chops and teared up on cue.

After a solitary tear slips down Hiddleston’s face and he lowers his head, the word ‘betrayal’ in gigantic capital letters appears onscreen. Given that the actor’s nothing short of a precious buttercup and needs to be protected, people instantly started to rage and speculate over what exactly had made Tom Hiddleston cry – and what the betrayal refers to.

The mystery plagued the internet for a good few hours with people wondering what the secret behind the video was. Some pointed out that this was a pretty big deal, given that it was Hiddleston’s second tweet of the entire year (and we’re in November!). However, other savvy fans with a knowledge of theatre instantly honed in on one major hint: the word ‘betrayal’ at the end.

A couple of fans in the comments shared a photograph of what appears to be a recent leaflet from the recent gala at the Harold Pinter theatre. The gala was a celebration of the acclaimed playwright Harold Pinter’s birthday and featured a few big names stepping up to the plate to perform iconic scenes, including a scene from Pinter’s drama Betrayal. It turns out that Hiddleston actually starred as one of the play’s protagonists Robert alongside Zawe Ashton who took on the role of Emma.

Even though he and Ashton only performed a bit of the play, the video was a major hint that there could be a longer version of Betrayal to come. And lo and behold, The Guardian revealed this morning that Tom Hiddleston would be starring in a production of the play early next year at the National Theatre.

It’s going to be directed by Jamie Lloyd, who is currently rounding off a mammoth Pinter marathon at the Harold Pinter theatre. Set to run between March and June, the play centres on the infidelity that ties two couples together and it’s regarded as one of Pinter’s best works.

Hiddleston told The Guardian, ‘Betrayal is a masterpiece. Jamie Lloyd’s Pinter at the Pinter season is terrific and I am so pleased that he’s asked me to be part of it.’

You can bet we’re going to book tickets as soon as they go live. Fingers crossed we snag some, we have a feeling they’re going to go quick…

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‘Twitter is removing the like button and it’s about time’

‘Twitter is removing the like button and it’s about time’


Here’s why Junior News Editor Jenny Proudfoot thinks it’s a good thing…

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How clean are your apps?

Today it was announced that Twitter was getting ready to remove its ‘like’ button – one of only three ways people can respond to posts (like, retweet and reply).

Why? To get the platform’s priorities straight, with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announcing that his plans were to improve debate on Twitter.

‘As we’ve been saying for a while, we are rethinking everything about the service to ensure we are incentivising healthy conversation, that includes the like button,’ the Twitter communications team confirmed. ‘We are in the early stages of the work and have no plans to share right now.’

Unsurprisingly, the announcement has been divisive, with a lot of Twitter users arguing that the removal is unnecessary, and even more suggesting that the platform’s time could have been better spent.

Why remove the ‘like’ button when you could spend that time removing hate speech and the abusive accounts out there?

While the statement rings true, I am actually behind Twitter’s removal of the ‘like’ button. In fact, in my opinion – the sooner the better.

Why? Because social media has become a popularity contest and we all need to stop looking for validation.

I am a London-based millennial journalist with a growing social media presence – in other words, all I think about is likes.

Every tweet, every Instagram post, every Insta story involves a long thought process – What time will be the most popular for posting? Which filter will people prefer? And what opinion should I raise to get me all the likes?

Our society is built on validation, and while social media used to be a place to inform and discuss, it has since become a ‘like for like’ marketplace to make us all feel powerful.

But power is knowledge, and if a lot of us are honest, we’ve lost ourselves, what we think, and what we believe, changing and shaping our opinions to get the most likes and be the most influential online.

So yes, removing the ‘like’ button might be problematic for some budding influencers hoping to make their money on avocado toast photographs, but it will mean that the people who are posting are not just posting for likes, and are tweeting with an actual purpose.

We can still post whatever we want to, it will just be for us rather than for the likes.

There’s no word yet as to when the change will be made, but if it starts better debates and improves the quality of what we’re talking about, I say ‘bring it on’.

Let us know your thoughts on Twitter at @MarieclaireUK

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Is THIS Meghan Markle’s favourite musical?

Is THIS Meghan Markle’s favourite musical?


Chicago? Matilda? Billy Elliot?

meghan markle freckles
REX/Shutterstock

Words by Rebecca Fearn.

It’s fair to say we’re pretty obsessed with all things Meghan Markle. So when we heard she may have a favourite musical, we were desperate to know which one (so we could go book tickets, obvs…).

Is it Matilda? Chicago? Phantom? What about The Lion King?

Nope – we have an inkling it could well be Hamilton, as she is going to see it for the second time next week alongside husband Prince Harry.

On Wednesday 29 August, the popular pair will be in the audience in London, attending a gala performance to raise funds for Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale. Sentebale helps children and young people affected by HIV in Southern Africa.

Harry and Meghan will meet representatives from Sentebale, as well as some of the Hamilton cast.

This will be the second time Meghan has seen Hamilton, perhaps suggesting she is a huge fan of the hit show. She first saw it on Broadway in New York with her good friend Priyanka Chopra.

We’re just off to book our seats…

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Hermione Granger has made it clear Donald Trump is not welcome at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Hermione Granger has made it clear Donald Trump is not welcome at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


‘If you’re not seen and not heard, that’s where the dangerous stuff happens. That’s where people under the radar do very cruel things.’

hermione donald trump
Canadian Press/REX/Shutterstock

Hermione Granger is a woman who takes no crap and knows her own mind, so it only follows that her Broadway actress Noma Dumezweni has some strong opinions too. When asked at the Tony awards if Donald Trump should see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, she made it very clear that the American president wasn’t welcome in her theatre.

Noma was on the red carpet and was asked by Variety, ‘Should the president see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?’

Her entire mood shifted and she stated firmly, ‘No.’

hermione tony awards

Stephen Lovekin/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Even the interviewer seemed taken aback at how strongly she felt about it, as she began to walk off. However, Noma returned to the microphone for a brief second.

‘No. Anybody else, yes,’ she doubled down.

Noma has been playing Hermione for years now, as she was the original Hermione in the London production and sparked a heated conversation about race in the magical series. She reprised the role of Hermione Granger for the Broadway leg, which is currently playing in New York.

Beyond her strong stance on the Trump administration, she’s also been a powerful voice for humanitarian aid as a refugee child who found sanctuary in the United Kingdom during apartheid. After winning an Olivier Award for her portrayal of Hermione, she gave a moving speech about her experience.

Prior to being asked about Donald Trump, Noma waxed lyrical about the political undertones to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which was nominated for ten Tony awards. She drew comparisons between the current state of American politics, Voldemort and Donald Trump’s America and said that was one of the reasons why the show was doing so well in the United States after moving over from London.

She said, ‘I really do believe that’s why [the play is] resonating at the moment…We, all as human beings, are fighting to be connected. If you’re not seen and not heard, that’s where the dangerous stuff happens. That’s where people under the radar do very cruel things.’

The play, which is set nearly two decades after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is a two part magical extravaganza that follows Harry (now a Ministry of Magic employee) and his son Albus Severus Potter as dark wizardry raises its head once again. The play won six Tony Awards last night, including for best play, best direction as well as best scene design, costume design and lighting design for a play.

hermione donald trump

Dave Allocca/Starpix/REX/Shutterstock

Noma is far from the only performer who had little love for Donald Trump, as Robert de Niro had to have his speech bleeped after saying ‘fuck Trump’ multiple times onstage.

Noma said, ‘[This play is] about bringing things into the light. Letting your light shine. This is what J.K. has always been about. Let the darkness out into the light. That’s why I’m very proud to be here, telling this story right now. Those things are very important.’

We bet Hermione would 100% back that.

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