Interview with Arabella Weir

"I was desperate for attention and performing seemed like the best way to earn a living and get the attention I craved as a show off."

Interview with Arabella Weir

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader? 

My name is Arabella Weir and I’m a comedy writer/performer, best known for the BBC multi-award-winning sketch show The Fast Show and BBC2’s hit Scottish sitcom Two Doors Down, and also for being the person who coined the catchphrase 'Does My Bum Look Big In This?'

How would you describe your show?

It’s a road trip, a pretty hair-raising one at times, of the very tricky relationship I had with my mother and about mothering in general with a wee hint of why women have been programmed to not challenge men.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Because it’s there, it’s iconic, I’ve never performed there before (slightly incredibly) and I love and know Edinburgh very well - so many great reasons to come there.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

It’s so vast and offers such a huge, differing range of entertainment and things to see and do and it’s in Edinburgh, one of the most beautiful cities in the world with a fantastically interesting, engaging history. 

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

I was desperate for attention and performing seemed like the best way to earn a living and get the attention I craved as a show off. My earliest inspirations were Bette Midler and Elaine May - American comedy performers who I saw on British TV or heard on the radio - I don’t remember there being many funny women on British telly was I growing up. 

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

I think I’d be a criminal barrister…I’m very argumentative and have a strong sense of social justice.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

The one I’ve got! I love it. 

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

When I was about 7, I remember screwing up my eyes very tight and drawing a stick person on the new wallpaper in our new family house - I was convinced it was teeny tiny so no one but me would see it. My dad was furious, it was pretty big. It stayed there for years - a constant reminder of my first and last attempts at vandalism.

Do you ever feel any pressure to be a social commentator, or constantly update material to respond to events?

Yes, when politicians or people with influence behave badly or don’t keep the promises they’ve made.

Equally, do you think there has been a shift in public sentiment that has affected your work?

I’m not sure…maybe a willingness to listen to other’s personal experiences and believe them. It’s been fantastically liberating, joyously so, to hear all the stories coming out of the #metoo movement, especially as when I started out in the late 1970s sexism and harassment were a totally normal, everyday occurrence.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Hard, exciting, exhausting, rewarding, exacting.

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

Hilda Baker - I’d love to have been working with a woman on the comedy circuit when she started in the 1930s.

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?

There’s a democracy to the free fringe, I guess, since I’ve never done either, though, it’s a bit pompous of me to give an opinion. I guess you’ve got a bit more control with a ticketed event but what do I know?!

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

Ask me that after I’ve appeared there!

When and where can people see your show?

The Assembly, 4pm, from 12th-25th August.

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

I’m pretty dull on Instagram, bit punchier on Twitter and stunningly interesting on Facebook - Arabella Weir on all of them. No abuse please.


You can see Arabella Weir: Does My Mum Loom Big In This at Assembly George Square- Studio 2 from 12th – 25th August at 4pm. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.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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