Katie Yossarian: Catch Comedy Showcase
Katie Yossarian has organised the second Catch Comedy night and this time will be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support. This showcase will be presenting North-East England’s finest comedic talent. Whilst each act is individual in itself, they all share something in common – they’re bloody hilarious! Be prepared to expect a more than varied show each day from the likes of Simon Donald, Kunt & the Gang, Slap & Giggle, Sean McLoughlin, Lost Voice Guy, Dan Mitchell, Jeff Truth, Steven ‘friz’ Frizzle and more, including brand new acts. Given such a great lineup we decided to have a chat with Katie about her own set and the story behind deciding to orgainise this event.
How did you get into comedy Katie? Was it something you’d always wanted to do or did you fall into it unexpectedly?
I’d been writing songs about rubbish dates I’d been on, working on building sites and other things for quite a while & had always been involved in music open mic nights since I came up to Newcastle in 2006 for university. I’d go along, do a few covers & then play one of my ‘funny’ songs and people really seemed to enjoy them, but I’d never thought about doing stand up proper until I went to Edinburgh Fringe in 2011. One of my friend was doing a show with a guest every day and invited me to come and play one or two of my songs, so of course I jumped at the chance and took a week off work. I was so excited! Imagine me playing some of my daft songs at a proper festival! I chucked my keyboard into the car & drove up to Edinburgh. However, when I got there I found out that my friend had become ill and was in hospital (he’s ok now). I was advised to go to the venue to meet the other ‘guests’ and between us we just decided to carry on with the show. One of the organisers asked me if I fancied a proper slot and, despite having basically no material, I said yes. I’d been gradually increasing the introductions to my songs, making up stories about the people in them – I’d never thought of it as standup. So it didn’t seem much of a stretch to write a short set, sitting in my youth hostel, on Monday & Tuesday. Wednesday I was obviously shitting myself, but I had a few pints and went onstage! It went down a lot better than I expected (‘oh my God, people are laughing!’) so I returned every day for the rest of the week. It just seemed natural to carry on once I got back to Newcastle. The people I’d met there were already experienced comedians, and, because we were with each other almost constantly all week, we became friends very quickly. They were so supportive when I got back home, helping me find gigs, it was awesome.
How did the Catch Comedy Showcase come to be?
I really fancied putting on a special one-off night for my birthday in March. It originally started off as a simple idea – I’d sit there getting drunk and having fun in a small venue while me and a group of mates enjoyed a small, hand-picked selection of my friends perform. By this point I knew quite a lot of entertainers, including comedians, street performers, dancers, magicians, sketch artists etc. I was going to charge a small entrance fee and donate it to charity.
However, little ideas soon turn into big ideas & I suddenly found myself in charge of 10 support acts, a lovely headliner – Gav Webster, a large and very classy venue and an aim to raise £400. You know how it goes. I must admit, I really don’t remember much of the night. I only decided to go on and perform myself that night after peer pressure from my family who had never seen me before. I was too busy sorting out the music, the drinks, talking to my friends, running round like a mad’un.. to actually sit and relax. But I’ve been told it was pretty good, so that’s a relief. We raised over £500 for Breast Cancer Research!
Did you set it up by yourself or was it a joint venture with various comedians? Had you organized anything like this previously?
I suppose Catch Comedy as a ‘thing’ was my idea, but I couldn’t have done the night without the support of my friends and family. I know it sounds soppy, but I just had no idea how HARD it would be to run a night! Everyone makes it look so easy! I have to say that without the support of the wonderful Graham Oaks (the MC) I would have broken down and wept, and my family were great on the door, taking money & dealing with the charity raffle.
To answere your other question, no, I’d never organized anything like this in the past. I’m still slightly amazed with how it all went, I suppose it was quite an ambitious thing to do on my first try!
You have a great lineup of comedians. How did you go about choosing them and getting them all involved?
I guess I’m lucky to have such a talented group of friends! Seriously though, I’ve been doing this comedy thing for a year now & I am constantly amazed at all of the hilarious people I meet every week. It was quite tough to choose people, but I had a good idea of who I definitely wanted on. The good thing about comedians is that they’re a nice, fun-loving bunch (on the whole) and very rarely turn down the offer of a decent gig, especially if it’s for a good cause. I’d known Simon, Kunt and Dan for a while, so I just sent them a quick email & they were happy to help out. I’m in this comedy thing for the enjoyment of it, and I must say that the majority of it is getting out to gigs and meeting funny people – I’m just chuffed they all want to perform alongside me.
It must be seriously hard work sorting out your own act whilst organising everything else. How do you manage to juggle it all together?
I have honestly not thought about it that way! I see the two very separately; I’m just another act on the show. I will be hosting it, MCing I suppose, but I do hope to go on and do a proper set a couple of days. I suppose it doesn’t really matter if I don’t, because I’ve been invited to do other nights other than my own: Funny Filles, Funny’s Funny and Laughterholics so far, but I am hoping to get a few more as well.
I’d say the most difficult thing is juggling my full-time job (I work in engineering. We’re currently refurbishing powerlines for the National Grid, fun eh?) and comedy. Seriously, coming home after a full day and then managing to get myself out to gigs and things can be quite hard. Even harder is getting there and being awake enough to give a decent performance!
What about your own set? What can we expect to see from you, and how often will you be performing?
Well the thing about my set is that it’s fairly interchangeable. I’m a mixture between anecdotes and stories, musical stuff and ‘traditional’ standup. I rarely do exactly the same set each time, because I get bored. I do feel a bit jealous of acts who have a ‘set’ that is perfect and polished each time, but I enjoy mixing my material up.
I guess I’ll just have to say – I’ll see how I feel on the day! What you can definitely expect, though: Being the only girl on the building site, how it feels to be from Hull, the delight of the job centre and a couple of dodgy jokes about pirates. It’s gonna be good.
Have you performed your Fringe preview shows yet, and, if so, how have they gone down? Pretty much sorted for the main event or does it still need a bit of fine tuning?
Yes, I’ve done a couple – Laughter Surgery, Long Live Comedy and so on. I’m not sure about the rest of the comedians out there, but to be honest I’ve been treating every gig from about May and all the way up til August as a preview show! I know a lot of comics have an hour-long set that’s just them, so preview shows are important, but I’m not doing it that way this year so they haven’t been stressful for me. I’m just going to be doing my normal set & I’m mostly happy with it.
Like I said before, I do enjoy mixing my material up & I am constantly writing new songs and material, so obviously the new stuff needs a bit of practice before I unleash it on the general public! I’d say I was mostly prepared in myself, but I am getting a bit nervous on the MC front. I think I’m just going to go onstage, be friendly and focus on introducing and encouraging the acts.
It’s also great to see you’ll be supporting Macmillan Cancer Support this year. What made you decide to donate to this charity in particular? Apart from going to your gigs, how can people support this charity?
Thanks! Well, the way I see it is, I already have a job, and because I have so many acts I’m not going to make enough to give anyone anything substantial, so I might as well do something good with it. My charity of choice last time was Cancer Research, so I wanted to do something similar again. I, along with most people I know, have seen how fucking devastating cancer can be. Recently I’ve had a few friends who have been given the all-clear, but I have also had friends who weren’t that lucky. So I suppose Macmillan is relevant to my interests, and lots of other people’s too.
Aside from buying tickets (50% of sales profit will go to charity) and putting money in donation buckets at the gig (100% to charity), I have a justgiving page! So even if you can’t make it to Edinburgh, please think about throwing few pennies in this direction:
The good thing about justgiving is that you can GiftAid your donation, which means more money for charity & less for the taxman! Hurrah!
Which shows, apart from your own, are you most looking forward to seeing at the Fringe?
I CAN’T WAIT to see East End Cabaret at the Fringe again this year! I saw them twice in 2011 and they are one of the funniest shows I have ever had the pleasure to watch.
Apart from that, I’m planning to go to as many of my friends’ shows as possible, most of whom are doing sets on mine. I reckon most of them have only agreed to do Catch Comedy so they can pimp their own shows out, but that’s fine with me!
Dan Mitchell: Free Egg
Simon Donald’s School of Swearing
Kunt & The Gang
Jeff Lantern’s Truth Explosion
Lost Voice Guy
Making Life Taste Funnier
I’m sure there will be more. Last year I just got into the spirit of things & ended up wandering into shows and having a great time. Can’t wait!
Thanks very much to Katie for spending a few moments with us. We highly recommend you check out some of the shows she is putting on at this year’s Fringe as there really are some great acts lined up, herself included.
See you there.
Update: There has been a slight change of plan and the show will now run from the 13th until the 17th at Cafe Camino, 7.30pm. Unfortunately Kunt and the Gang have had to be removed from the lineup but you can still catch them at their own Fringe shows.