Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
Hello! I am Esther Manito a stand-up comedian and writer, and I will be performing my debut hour, Crusade, this fringe at The Gilded Balloon!
How would you describe your show?
It’s an observational look at identity politics: motherhood, marriage, ethnicity, gender and religion. What does it all mean and why is it so important to fit people into neat identity boxes? I have had reactions from very religious extremists, to very racists groups to INSANE mums who all feel I am letting down either the image of “Arab”, “Brit” or “Mum”.
Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?
Firstly, Edinburgh is awesome and it’s a fab city to be in for a month. Secondly, there are so many gigging opportunities to perform so (hopefully) I'll learn and develop more. It’s also a great chance to meet lots of people!!
What differentiates it from other festivals?
I have to compare it to Disney World. You can take your kids to Butlins, Centre Parcs, even Disneyland but we all know they are longing for the real deal: Disney World. Edinburgh is the Disney World for comedians. They others are great and a lot of fun but it’s all about EdFringe. I think it’s the size and variety. You get to see a whole spectrum of comedy from everywhere and in so many different environments. It’s a great way to see so many people’s work!
What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?
I was at home three years ago with a baby and toddler and thought “I think I need to do a class or something to get my brain back into action”. A friend of mine suggested we do a comedy course, which we did. I never ever intended to do the showcase at the end, but I did and I have been 4-5 times a week since. I grew up with French and Saunders and I loved their ability to morph into different characters. I also loved Victoria Wood growing up and think her writing was perfection. I loved watching high energy stand ups too like Rod Gilbert. He is incredibly funny and I love his style.
If you didn’t have your current job, what would you probably be doing?
I would be a full time teacher.
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
I would be a stand-up comedian. I love it. I love performing in clubs and I love meeting so many people. I mean you really meet ALL KINDS of folk.
What is your earliest childhood art memory?
Putting on my sister’s elephant mask from London zoo, looking in the mirror and freaking out at how scary I looked. It was the eyes! I must have been about 3, but I remember it so clearly.
Do you ever feel any pressure to be a social commentator, or constantly update material to respond to events?
I don’t feel pressured; I like commenting on current events as its part of my comedy style. I update and change my material very slowly. I try a story and then refine it and then I’ll add it to my set. Actually my political stuff tends to be a one-off rant and if I like the feel of a bit, I’ll keep it and adapt it to fit different scenarios. I see comics who try out pages of stuff and I am in awe! I work so slowly!
Equally, do you think there has been a shift in public sentiment that has affected your work?
I think so but I don’t think it’s impacted me negatively. I think it’s definitely provided me with more material. I do feel there are views you are expected to have and views you are NOT allowed to have. I have previewed my show in very left-wing, and very right-wing areas and it’s been fascinating watching people get react to different parts of the show.
Describe the last year in 5 words or less?
If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?
Tony Hancock. I prefer listening to comedy to watching comedy so I love radio comedies. We would drive to Gateshead to see my family and would listen to episodes of Hancock's Half hour. It was absolute genius. I would have loved to develop a radio comedy with him.
Why would a performer opt to do either a ticketed event or participate in the free fringe? What are the benefits and limitations of both?
Well the benefit of a ticketed event is the audience have paid to see you. You also will have the support of the venue, which reduces a lot of pressure on the technical and management side. The free fringe however, is cheaper and therefore it’s more manageable to make a profit.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?
Go up and do some spots first and get to know as many different venues, and locations as possible. You want to make sure that if you are committing to performing for a month it’s in a place you will enjoy performing in, and, in a location you will be able to attract an audience to.
When and where can people see your show?
Gilded Balloon The Turret 4pm 31st July – 25Th Aug (except the 12th aug)
And where can people find, follow and like you online?
Facebook: @Esther Manito
Esther Manito’s debut stand up show “Crusade’ will be at the Gilded Balloon Turret at 4pm daily from 31st July to 25th August for tickets go to www.edfringe.com