Interview with Angela Beevers, writer, producer, and comedian

"I went to what’s known in the US as a charter school, which is code for very weird and strange theatre kid school where no one does any sports and instead all must be in band or choir and learn Latin, the most useful language of all."

Interview with Angela Beevers, writer, producer, and comedian

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Yes, hi! I’m Angela Beevers, a writer/producer from LA. Right now, I’m an Associate Producer on Beavis & Butt-head, heh heh heh, and before that I was an Associate Producer on Silicon Valley. I grew up on a bee farm to some really wild and crazy parents, and I wrote a comedy show about that, which brought me here! 

How would you describe your show?

My show is very funny, intimate, some might even say deeply overshare-ish, and it’s all about my mother. She is a belly dancer, a psychic, a honky-tonk fiddler, a renaissance faire worker, a quality assurance expert for my family’s bee farm, and she is also a ghost, because she is dead. I’d say it’s a very dark, cathartic comedy. It’s got wigs! It’s got lots of my dad’s self-portraits he drew on his iPad! It’s got grief thirst traps (that’s where you try to use sympathy to seduce your crush using a crazy, sad, awkward boudoir selfie). Mostly it’s a half-manic, half-dry retelling of what it was like to be a caretaker for my mom during cancer (I know! Gross! Sad! Feelings!). It’s mostly me being funny about it, and a little of me being sad about it. A lot of you being like, did that really happen? And me showing you a bunch of pics to prove, yeah, it did. 

What is your favourite part of your show?

My favourite part of my show is the part where I get to play a song that my mom wrote. She wrote several musicals throughout her life about a time-traveling Dragon Lady. She always wanted to have a big reception for the latest Dragon Lady show she wrote, which was produced into a nice CD. She never got to have that reception, so I do like that I get to show audiences around the world this crazy, bizarre, funny, unique musical my mom made. 

If your show had a theme song, what would it be and why?

My show does have a theme song, beyond my mom’s musical. I use the song Only Hope by Mandy Moore from the beloved cancer romance film, A Walk to Remember. This song is very funny to me, because in the movie it seems as though this song has the power to make an F-boy (if I can’t use this term, I’ll say Bad Boy) fall in love. Somehow this song is equal parts Christian worship, begging for sex, and pure over-the-top sadness. I think this is one of the great ballads of the 2000s and I incorporate it into my show in a fun way. 

What is one thing you hope audiences will take away from your show?

I think our society has a real difficulty regarding death, and grief, and talking about such things. I hope people can see my show and think that it’s okay to make dark comedy about a really taboo subject, like your mom getting cancer and dying. Because the two are not mutually exclusive. There’s so much we’re all afraid to talk about and death can be incredibly isolating. I like to use this show to really go there, talk about all the crazy stuff that happens throughout the dying process and how, just like the rest of life, it can be funny at the most inappropriate times. 

If you could add a surprise celebrity cameo to your show, who would it be and why?

I think I’d love it if I could get Louis Theroux, I do reference one of his documentaries: A City Addicted to Crystal Meth, which was about my hometown. I do my best to describe my hometown, Fresno, in the show, but to be honest Louis Theroux standing in a meth lab calmly asking people: ‘Erm, but, why? Do you… do this?’ is somehow the best way to give a window into my hometown, I think. I’d of course also take Mandy Moore, I’d love to duet her. Not sure she’d like that, but I would. 

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

It’s been a lifelong dream. Something actually really cool about my meth-addled hometown is that we also have our own little Fringe festival, called The Rogue Festival, and I put up plays there in high school and when I was in college. At the time, it was one of the largest Fringe festivals on the West Coast, though I think Hollywood has us beat by now. I’ve always heard about how amazing the Edinburgh Fringe is, and how massive and incredible it is, and wanted to participate ever since. Plus, I have always loved the ethos of the Fringe. How free you are to create exactly what you want to create - whether it’s weird, or cringe, or sad, or crazy — the self-expression is amazing. Honestly, my favourite thing in the world is watching people do one person shows. I know there’s a whole lot more to EdFringe, of course and I can’t wait to see the larger shows as well. 

What differentiates it from other festivals?

I’d say it’s wildly different from the other two Fringe fests I’ve attended, Fresno and Hollywood, not just by the sheer size, but by the support from millions of people who love art and theatre. There is nothing like it that I’ve ever seen – the incredible melting pot of creativity, the quality of the shows, the community that’s built. Also, as a Californian, the fact that you can just walk everywhere and see a million things, is wonderful. I hate cars, I am extra excited not to have one for a month. The festival is sensory overload in the best possible way. It’s truly the most awesome place I’ve ever gotten to go as a tourist, and now I’m beyond excited to perform there for the first time. 

What is one thing you would change about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Definitely the thing that I think almost everyone else would change about it: make it less expensive for performers. I do think a lot of amazing performers are unable to do Fringe due to cost. That being said, for the incredible transformation the city goes under, and all the work it takes to create the behemoth that is Fringe, I totally get why we’ve got to pay. We’re getting a chance to be a part of something so incredible, amazing and special. 

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

I definitely wouldn’t be working in comedy without a huge amount of help and inspiration from my parents. Both of them wanted to be creatives – my dad tried to be an actor but couldn’t hack it in NY in the 70s, and so ended up having to go to grad school to become a doctor of bugs (an entomologist). My mom loved her day job as a special education teacher, but in her time off was always doing something creative and new and unique (as I said above, she had plenty of belly dancing and fiddling to do). My dad first got me into performing by creating a puppet show for children to perform for other children. So basically, my friends and I did fairytales with puppets he had sculpted around various local farm towns. I was basically encouraged to do something as crazy as tour a one woman show from a very young age. 

My dad did also want me to take over the family business doing experiments on bees, but he always supported me pursuing comedy because he always wished his parents had allowed him to pursue acting. Plus, I went to what’s known in the US as a charter school, which is code for very weird and strange theatre kid school where no one does any sports and instead all must be in band or choir and learn Latin, the most useful language of all. That kind of education is really great cause there’s no one to bully you into becoming a normie, and instead everyone is helping you put on your dorky little plays. As far as I can see it, I’m super, super lucky to have had such a weird and privileged background.  

What is your favourite thing about performing for a live audience?

The connection! The chance to really reach out to people and tell them a story. I personally love being an audience member just about as much as I love being a performer for that reason. Plus I like to keep a keen eye out for a cutie who I’m hopefully making laugh. 

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you while performing?

Once I accidentally swallowed my wig. It was painful, and very plasticky, but the show goes on.

What's the most challenging or unconventional venue you've ever performed in, and how did it impact the overall experience?

Well, I’ve done stand-up in all sorts of horrible places, usually late at night, and usually have to put my keys between my fingers when I run to my car after. So, I guess I’d say rather than stage fright I’ve combatted just sheer, fright? I’ve done cafes, a grocery store, an attic above a Chinese restaurant… lots of places that are not ideal to get people to listen to you tell jokes. Truly some of the worst places I’ve performed are just dirty old theatres too late at night. Improv and open mic theatres are very abused places. They should really set a horror movie in one. 

Is there a piece of feedback you've received from an audience member or critic after a performance that’s stuck with you?

Hmmm. Once an audience member who caught the vibrator I throw (that’s just a cool-not-gross thing I do in this show, if you’re lucky you might be the one who catches it!) gave it back to me at the end and warned me that if I were to continue using that type of vibrator I would “desensitize myself and wouldn’t be able to enjoy sex anymore.” I definitely took that deeply to heart and have not enjoyed sex since. 

What is your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh when you're not performing? How do you relax and look after your mental health?

I want to explore more of the city outside of the main festival area, perhaps take an Outlander tour (I’m sorry I have to?!), and look for Love Island cast members – I know they’re all probably in Essex or London but I can hope and dream. I don’t know that I know how to relax, cause I definitely want to use as much of my time off as I can watching other people’s shows and making lots of new friends. For my mental health, I take Lexapro. I’m telling myself I’m going to do yoga, but I’ll be honest, that’s already seeming unlikely. 

Is there a show you’re excited to see when you’re up there?

So so many! I Was on a Sitcom by Eden Sher! Vanessa 5000 by Courtney Pauroso! Avital Ash Workshops Her Suicide Note! It Ain’t Easy Being Cheeky by Freya Parker! Composition by Laila Navabi (love a musical)! , Hello Kitty Must Die! (Love love a musical!), and Party Ghost (hey it’s about death! And it’s circus?! Can’t wait).  

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking about taking a show up to Edinburgh? If you’ve never been before, what would you say has been (potentially) the most useful?

I’d say the best advice I have is to try to have fun. That’s what we’re all here for. Like in life on earth, in general. I’d also say, try to support other artists the way that you want to be supported. Also, drink lots of water, wear comfy shoes, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from others who have done this before. Get yourself a community of other people who are going so you can ask each other questions and not feel totally alone! 


Angela Beevers: How To Write A Eulogy That Kills will be performed at 11pm in Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (Snug)from2nd – 27th August (Not 14th)

Booking link: https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/event/14:4936/

Header Image Credit: Joseph Canoza

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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