Incoming: a chat with Rachel Parris
Andrew Mickel26 June 2012
The first in our new new(ish) act columns, multi-hatted musical act Rachel Parris talks about how she's like Esther Rantzen...
We're launching a slate of new features here at SSP, and today it's the turn of Incoming, our now slot for new(ish) acts.
First up is Rachel Parris: half of musical duo the Balconettes, member of improv troupe Austentatious, a solo act (called Rachel Parris): she has all the comedy hats, which she wears variously while singing songs, unless she's doing one of the things that doesn't involve songs.
Before we get down to business, let's start with a song:
What brought you into comedy?
Improv and accident. I'd been doing music and acting and stuff for years, and then about five years ago a friend basically made me audition for an improv comedy troupe and I got in. Really it was that move that brought me into the comedy scene: I'd never thought of comedy as an option before, and once I was on the improv circuit in London, doing solo stuff seemed a natural progression. So I tricked this lovely lady into giving me a slot at her new comedy night (she asked if I knew any comedians, I bluffed and said I was a musical comedian). She gave me a 20-minute slot! I hastily wrote a few songs and poems and surprisingly it went pretty well, and I took it from there. (It was the first ever night of Cock and Bull at Cable Studios - a wonderfully artistic, alternative comedy night, it's still going strong and I'm playing it next month!)
Describe your act in five words.
My regular act is...musical, characterful, bleak, unique and tongue in cheek!
What's been the best reaction you've had to your comedy?
At a late night show in Edinburgh last year, I saw two very drunk guys next to each other on the front row - might have been on a stag or similar. One was literally crying with laughter, streaming, the other was fast asleep, snoring. I enjoyed the combination. I also got described last month as a "new Esther Rantzen". I have no idea what it meant but you can't really beat that.
Who's your biggest fan?
Errrr I don't think I know them.
What's the toughest lesson you've learnt in comedy?
One is not to rely on anyone else for work - write it yourself, run a night yourself, publicise stuff yourself. Also, just as you think you're having a great run of gigs and you've got your act pretty sorted, you will have a terrible, heart-achingly awful gig. And, every step up takes longer than you think. Can I give a nice lesson I've learnt too? If you ask another comedian for help, they nearly always give it, and gladly. Mostly I've found comedians to be a really supportive group - they help their own!
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
It was just this week! "You've got to do the stuff YOU want to do."
Show us something fascinating on the internet about you (that isn't your website/Twitter/'similar').
I did a sketch show a few years ago, and this is my favourite sketch from it, written by Craig Holmes. It featured a lot of silence.
What is your guilty comedy pleasure?
I can't think of any comedy pleasure I feel guilty about! I love Monty Python, Victoria Wood, Flight of the Conchords, Friends, Doctor Brown, Eddie Izzard, Miranda, Cardinal Burns, Morecambe and Wise, One Foot In The Grave, Anchorman...NO GUILT!
Which other acts have you seen while gigging you recommend?
So many! Just from gigs this week I have seen all these people be amazing: James Acaster, Louise Ford, Cariad Lloyd, Lou Sanders, and musical comedians Rob Carter, Steve Sellers and Tom Adams, plus my Edinburgh buddy, fantastic impressionist Max Dowler.
What's the day job?
I teach piano/singing/clarinet privately and help run choirs in schools. It's really fun! (I am very poor.)
THANKS RACHEL PARRIS.
Rachel Parris is doing an absolute guffload at Edinburgh this year: catch Parris and Dowler Know What They're Doing at 3.10pm, The Free Sisters, Cowgate; Austentatious at 1.30pm, The Counting House, West Nicolson Street; and Monkey Toast at 11.05pm, Pleasance Courtyard.
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