Sara Pascoe's Weirdo: Literature and Laughs

Sara Pascoe takes centre stage in an iconic white suit, with prewritten heckles about herself, ready to celebrate the paperback launch of her book, Weirdo, in style.

Sara Pascoe's Weirdo: Literature and Laughs

Weirdo, Sara’s debut fiction novel, follows the life of Essex girl Sophie, who struggles to keep her inner-monologue of paranoia to herself, showing us that we’re all weirdos inside of our brains. And what better way to show this than to get inside the brains of her characters?

Never one to stick to the norm, Sara decides to introduce her book in a hilariously fresh way – instead of reading the blurb, she performs stand up as her characters. She literally inhabits the brains of Ian – the straight white man who is a ‘good guy’ and hates femi-nazis – and Dayna – a Catherine-Tate-esque Debenhams worker and bridezilla – and does stand up comedy from their perspective. An absolute hit with the audience, this ingeniously showcased her character’s voices and personalities. We felt we knew them, and already loved them.

Aptly titled ‘Literature and Laughs’, this session brought a mix of comedy and insightful commentary, with the addition of a surprise guest, comedian and actress Aisling Bea. Acting as the interviewer, Aisling masterfully drew Sara’s fun anecdotes back to the conversation around writing, engaging with the contents of Weirdo in a way that only a true lover of literature could.

The most convincing reason to read Weirdo came from a discussion around how this is a ‘small’ story about the lives of sisters and a family, but with so much real depth beyond that. Aisling rightly pointed out that there has been a cultural shift, from exploring the ‘big’ lives of male figures (politicians, explorers etc), to now exploring the ‘small’ lives of everyday women – which in reality are not so small, as it is the stories of half of our population. Following her popular and relatable comedy style, Sara writes about real life, and even admits that her main character, Sophie, is eerily similar to Sara herself, as to her, writing is akin to vomiting out what she had stored on the shelves in her brain. Sara and Sophie both experienced having an absent father, living in a household where female viciousness was allowed to flourish, especially when playing Trivial Pursuits! All this to say, that Sara, who experienced ‘forced androgyny’ when she started out in comedy, is now able to tell stories, both in comedy and literature, that were previously not deemed as important, or worthy of a platform. And she does so with humour, using laughter to joy to combat the darker subject matter, such as alcoholism and money trouble. (Not that she sees the topics as dark herself!)

Sara’s multiformat show, with a delve into her writing notebook, stand up comedy, and readings from her book, impressively showcased all that her book had to offer – authentic characters, laugh-out-loud scenes, and real heart at the centre of the story. She and Aisling bounced off of each other, Sara’s joyful and scattered comedy matched perfectly with Aisling’s witty and eloquent deep dive into Sara’s book.

You can find more events from the Southbank Literature Summer Season here: Literature & poetry | Southbank Centre

Author

Kashmini Shah

Kashmini Shah Contributor

A Politics and English Literature graduate based in London, working in Publishing. Kashmini has written for Voice Mag and Chortle at the Edinburgh Fringe, and is a winner of the Malorie Blackman Scholarship for Creative Writing, where she works on a fantasy and a crime novel. She likes to write on a variety of topics, from book reviews, to engaging with feminist discourse in the media.

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