Interview with actor, comedian, and writer Isabelle Farah

"I’ve always wanted to be a performer. As a very precocious child my inspiration was Julie Andrews and then Judi Dench; I loved musicals."

Interview with actor, comedian, and writer Isabelle Farah

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m Isabelle. I’m an actor, comedian, and writer from London. I’m British-Lebanese. I’m 5’9”, I’m quite clumsy, and I talk far too much. I’m a bad vegetarian and I love pizza. I like outdoor swimming and yoga.

How would you describe your show?

I’ve got two this year, because I’m mad, and because my old show only did a short run last year.

Ellipsis is a theatre/comedy hybrid about comedy and grief and how we process and show/hide it. It’s me, in my voice and it’s about the year following the loss of a family member. Expect tears and laughter.

Irresponsabelle is an hour of silly jokes, anecdotes, and stories about what it is or isn’t to be a responsible grown up. It’s an hour of stand up, with no tears at all.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

I’ve been coming to the Fringe since 2007 and it’s just such a wonderful place to see new things and people, comedy, and theatre. Performing here is a joy, being in the thick of a whirlwind month and performing the same show every day for a month really flexes your muscles as a performer. I’m feeling the pressure a bit but I hope I’ll feel like I’m putting my best foot forward with a new show.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

I guess the fact that it’s so vast means that it becomes its own little microcosm within the city for a whole month. A weekend or a week requires a little less resilience, energy-wise and financially. I’m acutely aware of how much this will test my mettle.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

I’ve always wanted to be a performer. As a very precocious child my inspiration was Julie Andrews and then Judi Dench; I loved musicals. Now I’m in awe of people who write and perform and have really successfully bridged both careers, Aisling Bea, Sharon Horgan, Michaela Coel, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

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

My parents aren’t industry at all but are really into the arts and have been very supportive. We’re middle class and my parents live in London so I was very lucky to be able to live with them when I was at drama school and for the first few years of my career. I also watched a lot of films and shows with them when I was young and so was exposed to lots of variety really early on. I went to uni when it was still very cheap and so I have a degree in French Literature and Film, which I never would have done if it was the price it is now. I think seeing everything you can, every story, show, piece, concert, can really inform your work and my degree was such a luxury for that.

What is your earliest childhood memory?

My dad dismantled my cot to make me a proper bed. I still make him come over to do my DIY (Dad It Yourself.)

If you didn’t have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

I’ve always temped to support my creative career so maybe that. Though in a parallel life I’m a really efficient but fun A&E doctor.

Did Covid-19 change the way you create work? Do you approach shows with a different mentality now? 

Yes, I have fewer fucks to give across the board, but particularly on stage.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Fighting imposter syndrome every day.

Do you subscribe to the idea that art should be exempt from ‘cancel culture’? 

I don’t think cancel culture really exists. Who has actually been cancelled? People cry being cancelled for facing consequences for saying or doing something they probably shouldn’t have said or done.

We all know where the line is and if you’ve crossed it willingly people aren’t cancelling you by not booking you or buying your tickets. They’re choosing not to work with you.

I will say this: as an artist, I’d prefer not to be in a green room with people who casually drop racism for a cheap laugh or who sexually assault other artists, but I don’t have a choice in the matter sometimes.

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

I’d like Stephen Sondheim to write the musical of my life. Why? Because he’s a genius.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

Make work that means everything to you. Take your time putting it together. If it won’t be ready, wait until next year. Set yourself achievable, manageable goals. Get people to read it, watch it, give you feedback. Be open and brave.

When and where can people see your show?

Irresponsabelle is on at Assembly George Square - The Box at 3.45pm every day 3th-28th August (not 4th or 15th) and Isabelle Farah: Ellipsis is on at Underbelly Cowgate - Belly Dancer at 12.50, 16th-21st and 24th-27th.

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

@irresponsabelle on Instagram and Twitter!

See Isabelle Farah: Irresponsabelle at the Assembly during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 3-29 August. For more information and tickets visit www.edfringe.com or www.assemblyfestival.com

Header Image Credit: Provided

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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