Interview with Annabel Marlow, musician, comedian and actor

"I’ve been dreaming of taking my own show to The Fringe ever since I first went in 2017. Also, last year whenever I was out, I’d make myself say to people I met ‘well yeah I’m taking my show next year’ and get people excited, so now I like…have to."

Interview with Annabel Marlow, musician, comedian and actor

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hello! I’m Annabel, I’m a musician, comedian and actor and I’ve written my first one-person show called ‘…is this okay ??’ That I’m taking to the Fringe this year!

How would you describe your show?

‘…is this okay ??’ is a comedy gig. It’s me, at the piano, doing some funny songs that I’ve written, and some (purposefully) not funny songs that I’ve written, telling some stories and having a chat with you! It’s a very relaxed vibe, like you’re in my living room and I’ve just been like ‘please can you sit there while I sing and giggle in my lovely outfit?’. 

What is your favourite part of your show?

It’s still so special for me to perform some of the songs that I wrote at school, or at University that I always dreamt of playing to audiences but was never sure if that was possible. The funny ones are always a good time to perform, but the songs that are a lot more personal to me and come from a very vulnerable place are the ones I really enjoy. I close my eyes, and go somewhere else, and it feels cosy and scary and good.

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

Don’t judge me, questions like this send me into a hole ‘cause I feel bad about all the other songs – not kidding, it’s a problem. HOWEVER, the playlist I made for when the audience come in is the campest thing anyone’s ever seen, and I will take that to my grave (even though I’m obviously never dying) so it’ll have to be something from that. We go from Gaga to Queen to Les Mis to Glee covers to Cats to Beyonce to Mika to Legally Blonde. Come to the show just for that, surely?

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

I want the audience to go away with at least three of the songs stuck in their heads.

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

Emma Thompson as my mum. (You’ll see).

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Because it’s my actual heaven on earth. It’s the perfect place for a kid like me to try her thing. Also, everyone who goes are my favourite people of all time. Friends, performers, the good folk of Edinburgh allowing us to be strange in their streets. I’ve been dreaming of taking my own show to The Fringe ever since I first went in 2017. Also, last year whenever I was out, I’d make myself say to people I met ‘well yeah I’m taking my show next year’ and get people excited, so now I like…have to.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

It’s just heaven for people that love the arts. There’s stuff for everyone, and stuff for no one, but then you go, and it changes your life somehow. Everyone you meet is supportive, and creative, and interested. The city is beautiful, the shows are like nothing else, it is a phenomenal time. Nothing gets me more excited to be a creative than going to the Edinburgh Fringe. We are so lucky that it exists!!!  

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

If I was asked this last year, I would have said ‘to have one every month heheheheh!!!’, but now I can see how much work goes into taking your own show and… yeah, once a year is fine by me.

So, a non-funny and real answer would be the costs. It’s so expensive to take a show, prices of shows cost a lot more, it costs so much to stay up there – it’s not the most accessible of festivals. However, there are always schemes you can apply to, crowdfunding and other ways to fundraise. Especially when you’re taking a show yourself, it is an investment for your career. But wowza it’s been a lot of hard work. But that also feels good to do for yourself!

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

Definitely my friends and family who’ve influenced me and shown me other artists who’ve made a huge impact on my writing both musically and comedically. My sibling, Toby, has especially graced me with various writers, comedians and musicians who have literally written my show because of how much their work is embedded in my brain. Background wise, my whole family is very musical and has always played music together and shared that passion. I also have a very funny family which has always kept me on my toes. And I’ve had a lot of talented, hilarious, strong, intelligent and beautiful friends who are excellent muses I must say. I have always had so much support from family and friends so that alone has really got me to this point where I feel confident enough to write and perform my own show. If they did not believe in me then there’s no way I’d be able to do this, no sir.

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

When unplanned things happen and reacting to them in the moment. I am always so so nervous when I’m backstage, but as soon as we have a laugh together about something stupid I just said, or a mistake I made, or commenting on something that’s happened in the audience, you know any kind of ad lib moment - THAT’S when I’m like, ‘okay, I’m here with these nice people, I am relaxed and I am enjoying this.’ And with my show being lightly scripted it really gives space for moments like that to happen. 

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

Gosh it’s a strange feeling when I’m singing a song about someone who I know is in the audience, but they don’t know that the song is about them lol.  

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

I first did my show in Toby’s (my sibling) living room to just friends, to test it out. And, oh my word, it was so scary. Cause obviously there’s no stage lighting, I could see everyone and they’re all people I know. People I know very well. And I was just so shook, it took me a while to start. I just kept talking out my a** and going red. But I ended up loving it, and it really helped doing it in that setting cause as I say, living room vibes is the vibes I want for the show!

There’s a venue I did my show in recently which has a bar right next to where you’re performing, and a restaurant upstairs where people can order from and then the staff bring it down and wander through the audience serving it. But you know it was fine, it added to the chill vibe of my show and when cocktails were being shaken, I just grooved out to the beat so it was okay!

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

Toby said that it’s an hour of being charmed by a girl who is sharing songs she’s written throughout her life. Which I obviously ate up. My friend James told me I do a certain voice when I’m delivering some of the jokes in the funny songs. And he said that it’s unnecessary, that the writing it good on its own. And then I realised that this voice I did was like, an apology, or pre-empting that the jokes aren’t strong enough so if that sinks then maybe they’ll find the voice funny. I’m so glad James said this because he’s right! I can rely on the writing, and it is good enough. 

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’m going to make sure I go on runs. Running always clears my mind and makes me feel good, mentally. I’m going to make sure I have cosy nights in with friends who are also up there. Some other friends coming to visit want to find somewhere to wild swim so we’re going to do that! I just need to make sure I put myself first. If that means not seeing 5 shows a day sometimes and staying in bed, or just reading outside, then that’s what I’ll do.

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

All my friends’ things. Especially the musical my friend Rosie is directing called ‘Nun of it’.

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?

Back yourself! If you’re doing your own show, it can feel a bit crazy when you’re writing on your own, imagining the laughter, or applause or tears from the audience. And you’re thinking, ‘why am I doing this? Am I seriously gonna get up on stage and perform this random stuff I’ve written that I don’t know is even any good?’ But if you listen to that voice, you’ll never get up there and take the risk and do it! You need to love your project and believe in it with all your heart. Enjoy doing it and the audience will too!


Annabel Marlow: is this okay…? will be performed at 8.30pm in Pleasance Courtyard (Attic)from2nd – 27th August (Not 16th

Booking link: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/annabel-marlow-okay 

Header Image Credit: Isaac Qureshi

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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