Interview with musical comedian Katie Pritchard

"I do think however, that if things aren’t changed soon, the answer will become “The thing that differentiates Edinburgh Fringe from other festivals is that only acts with loads of money can do it”, and it is vitally important for the arts (and especially in comedy) that that doesn’t happen!"

Interview with musical comedian Katie Pritchard

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hello *curtseys*! My name is Katie Pritchard. How the blooming heck are you? *Does a snail dance*

How would you describe your show?

It’s a show all about self-acceptance written and performed by a very imperfect human person (me). It’s about knowing yourself, and fully accepting that being a misfit can be a very wonderful thing, actually. It’s about wanting to come and join the party and join the throng of beautiful weirdos down on life’s dance floor. And it is, of course, a very silly hour of fun! On top of that, my show is performed in the sexiest of all the comedy styles, that’s right - Musical Comedy! You love it!! It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s mayhem, and it’s a lot like me.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

I just absolutely love it! There’s something about everyone going through the process of creating and producing a show up there all at the same time, and performing them all at once, that makes the atmosphere incredible! I am definitely one of these people who goes to watch everything that they possibly can while they’re up there and immerse myself in the festival, supporting my friends and all their work, and also trying to discover something new and fun that I might love! I’m not saying it’s all sunshine and roses, but for me, I love being around creative people and seeing what they’ve made.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

I guess the main difference is that it’s a month long, and acts tend to go up for the full run. This gives it a kind of feeling like we’re all in it together. Some of the other festivals are incredibly fun and so lovely, but because we only do our shows once or twice across the festival, we don’t get to see everyone! But I guess, that is also what makes Edinburgh Fringe a bit overwhelming – there is so much choice! And I am TERRIBLE at making decisions! My friend even bought me a decision-making dice because he was so fed up with me! It’s also in Edinburgh, which is a beautiful place to be either in or out of the festival time!

I do think however, that if things aren’t changed soon, the answer to this question will become “The thing that differentiates Edinburgh Fringe from other festivals is that only acts with loads of money can do it”, and it is vitally important for the arts (and especially in comedy) that that doesn’t happen! I am very lucky this year to have such an amazing team to help me take my show to the festival, if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t have been able to go! So, whilst I love it, we need to work together to make sure it doesn’t become a festival that excludes exciting acts and artists because the cost is so prohibitive!

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

I entered into comedy very much by accident!

I went on a series of first dates with some rather curious people who all happened to take me to something comedy related and tell me throughout the show/gig/date, that I was funnier than the comedy performance we were watching. Which, I absolutely wasn’t, but so many people did that as our first date, that I thought I should probably think about why they’ve done that, and maybe calm my dating down and not date so many people, I guess? At that time, I was working on a show and was a bit bored backstage when I wasn’t onstage understudying people, so I started to create fun characters to film and make online sketch videos, songs, and vlogs and released them onto YouTube. And that’s where it all began for me! I just so happened to be working with some incredibly supportive people, who then booked me on to do my first live comedy gig, and all came with me to watch and cheer and support. Without them, and all those people taking me on comedy related dates, I might not have ever done live comedy! So, a massive shout out to that lot!

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

I am very lucky to have attended state schools where music was encouraged, and free music lessons were awarded on recorder (aka the devil stick) during primary school. I am also very lucky to have been brought up by a family who have very creative activities as hobbies, so my parents both play instruments and perform in their local Amateur Dramatics Society and vocal harmony group for fun. Because of this, I always associated music and performance as being something that people are passionate about, and that people do to be happy. I think having access to instruments lying around the house is the biggest factor in me getting into music – I’d just pick up a guitar and play around with it, get told off, and knew that I wanted to do more of that!

I was also incredibly lucky that Chicken Shed Theatre Company came to my school to do an outreach program, and that I was then able to join Chicken Shed Theatre Company! Chicken Shed Theatre Company is a fully inclusive theatre company, which create such beautiful shows with accessibility in mind at every moment, with BSL interpretation included within all shows, audio descriptions, captions, and choreography that made everyone look stunning. It was a truly beautiful space, and I know it was such a privilege to be a part of that company growing up! I wish everyone could feel as included in something as I did at that theatre, and I know my life has been all the better and more nourished for it! I LOVE THAT PLACE!!!

What is your earliest childhood memory?

It’s got to be when a family friend had taken me out for the day, and then my Dad turned up after shaving off his moustache, and I screamed the café down because I didn’t understand how facial hair worked so I didn’t know how my Dad had gotten rid of his tache. I think there was an element of disappointment from me as he really did have an amazing moustache at that time! I was aged 4.

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

Crying!

I did think about doing the sciences at A Level to become a forensic scientist after watching CSI and thinking that it seems like a nice workplace environment, but my Physics teacher told me to absolutely definitely not do that. I think it’s probably just because he didn’t want me in his class for another two years, doing “experiments”? But he’s the one that told me a career in the arts was clearly what I should be doing with my time. And he was the bassist in a punk nu-metal band made up of three Science teachers, an English teacher, and a PE teacher who all wore incredibly tight lace-up leather outfits when they performed at assemblies, so I’m pretty sure he knew what he was talking about! I’m one of those people who is just obsessed with the arts, so I can’t really imagine doing anything else – I’d crumble away!

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

Oh yes, significantly! Well, for starters, I’ve had far longer to work on my show than ever before, so that has been a real eye opener for me – the show’s grown as I have, which is a really nice thing to be a part of! I also don’t take my job for granted, not that I really did before, but sometimes I’d be tired and wish to get home to bed – not anymore! Oh boy! Even if I’m the tiredest little mouse, I always count my lucky stars that I’m able to perform and have a fun time! With that in mind, I will not accept complacency from myself – I want every show and gig to be fantastic. It is a mathematical impossibility, but it is lovely to feel how passionate I am about it and to really acknowledge that and focus it in on each gig. If it doesn’t go my way on that gig, I try to learn as many lessons from it as possible, instead of feeling like I’m worthless for the next few days after.

I also really enjoyed creating work online! I am pretty gutted that I no longer live somewhere where I can live-stream, as I really enjoyed being a part of the online community! And my hope is that when I live in a place suitable for working online, I’ll get back going with that again!

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Wild / roly-polies / pizza / crying / love

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

No. Don't spread hate, spread love!

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

PRINCE!!!! So talented, so amazing, I would just love to stand next to him to be honest. That’d do me nicely. Maybe I could hold an emergency pick out for him while he’s playing guitar or something?

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

I think I’d let them know it can be quite overwhelming, but that it can also be so rewarding too! To focus on and create a list of things that would be amazing about creating a show at the start of the creation process, and make sure you go back to that list every time you’re having a wobble and see how far you’ve come and how many amazing things you’ve already achieved to make it this far. Point 1 on my list is always “write a list”, so you know you’re gonna have achieved something even just by the end of the list. Point 2 is usually “write one line of the show”. That kind of thing! It’s great to aim big, but we’ve also got to celebrate the hard work that gets us to having written a full show! That’s an amazing thing that some people often forget to congratulate themselves for!

When and where can people see your show?

Well, I am so glad you asked! My show “Katie Pritchard: Disco Ball” is on at 6:05pm at The Cellar in Pleasance Courtyard. Running from 3rd – 29th August with just the one day off (fetch me a drink) on 15th August. There are loads of great shows going on at Pleasance Courtyard this year, so definitely worth checking out the other shows going on and seeing if there are some snazzy sounding one’s that are right up your street!

And, on Thursdays to Sundays I’ll be on at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose at 11pm hosting “Les Quizérables” – a musical theatre quiz, a cabaret, and a wild night out!

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

I’m on all socials as @katiepritchards – come at me!

If you’re a website kinda soul, you can find me: www.katiepritchard.co.uk


Katie Pritchard: Disco Ball, Pleasance Courtyard (The Cellar), 6.05pm, 3-28 August (not 15). For tickets, visit: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/katie-pritchard-disco-ball-0#overview 

Header Image Credit: Karla Gowlett

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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