Tiffany Stevenson: Uncomfortably Numb
Many of you will be more than familiar with Tiffany Stevenson as the runner-up in the ITV final of ‘Show Me the Funny’which was swiftly followed by a national tour. Described by The Guardian as “Mouthy, cynical and sexually frank“, she prepares to return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with an all new solo show, ‘Uncomfortably Numb’. Her previous solo Edinburgh shows, Cavewoman, Dictators and Along Came A Spider ammassed more than impressive audience figures with critics having nothing but praise for her. In other words, this is not to be missed.
In ‘Uncomfortably Numb’ Tiffany discovers that the battle against ageing is more than skin deep. Fringe Festival goers will follow her on her trip beneath the grimy epidermis to tackle diverse topics, ranging from class hatred, racism and sexism. She claims that now is the time to start giving a shit…..with jokes.
When did you realise you wanted to be a comedian?
I wanted to be a dancer! I still do! I used to work as a tequila girl in between acting jobs and that was like heckler training.
When and where was your first ever gig and how well did it go down?
It was in a lesbian bar, a mate of mine dragged up to get in…It’s a bit of a blur really. I remember they were supportive and I got laughs which must have encouraged me to continue!
How do you bounce back after a gig goes awry?
I tell myself how awesome I am and how rubbish they were ! Really you have to take it on the chin, try and work out why it happened and then move on. They happen less when you have been at it a few years but they still happen! You can be smashing every gig but there is always a stinker waiting to pop up and knock you off your pedestal.
This year’s Edinburgh Festival will be host to your new show “Uncomfortably Numb”. What can we expect from this year’s show?
Jokes! Thoughts! Ideas! Stories! Stuff that I care about! Women, men, plastic surgery, class, ageing, relationships….and how they all change as we get older.
How well did the preview shows go? Do you find you have to make a lot of changes before the final show or does most of what you include in previews tend to make the final cut?
It’s always evolving but I try and nail the themes for the preview and use them to learn the show.
Also, during the Edinburgh Festival do you find yourself introducing new material that works over the course of the month?
Only if it already fits with my show…like I had a tiny bit on the riots last year. Generally it’s not topical stuff that rules my hour. I’ll do that at club gigs, Old Rope or on TV.
For you, what is it that makes the Edinburgh Fringe so unique?
When you pull into Waverly the adrenaline starts going and the anticipation is immense……Edinburgh is the theatre of dreams for comics. In golfing terms, it’s the Open, so anyone can take a show. You get the best in the world and bouncy castle Hamlet. When you see a queue for your show the satisfaction is immense, I always think ‘You choose me!’ it’s very flattering. It’s a beautiful city and some of my seminal life moments have happened there.
It’s like a school trip for comics. You get to hang out with all your mates under the watchful eyes of agents, TV producers and reviewers. I think there has to be at least one adult for every 2 comics. That is how it works isn’t it?
Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the Festival?
Lady Carol, Rob Beckett, ReAnimator The Musical, Stuart Black, Roisin Conaty, Nick Doody, Felicity Ward, Carl Donnelly, Celia Paquola, Return Of The Lumberjacks, Coalition, Benny Boot, Susan Sarandon.
What is the first thing you’ll be doing as soon as the Fringe draws to an end?
I’m shooting a TV show in Manchester, then off to New York for a holiday. We have friends who live in Queens so I would like to go and be a proper tourist.
I have heard that you made a New Year’s Resolution to learn an instrument to a ‘decent standard’. Why this decision? Are you planning to add a musical extravaganza to your stand-up shows?
God no! I just felt a bit lazy. It was either instrument or language. I can now play a mean ‘London’s Burning’ on the recorder.
When you recall “Show Me The Funny”, do you have fond memories? I would have liked to have seen a few more female comics on the show. The show was criticised even though it got a fairly decent audience. Do you think maybe they featured too much behind the scenes when people really wanted to see actual stand-up comedy?
I loved the show and the challenges it threw up, I was just thinking the other day ‘This time last year we were all frolicking in Blackpool’ and I really missed everyone! I think something like 4 million watched the final live and a couple more on catch up, which are good figures for a stand up show. I think all the comics wished there had been more stand up, or at least that we had been shown at the beginning, storming normal gigs before showing what we were like under pressure. I think people are interested in the process of stand up, hence why audiences come along to Old Rope. It’s about striking the right balance really.
Do you think it was fair for the judges to constantly pick up on Ellie being too pretty to be a stand-up? In a recent interview with Abi Roberts she agreed, saying “you need to be the kind of woman who doesn’t immediately threaten other women”. Would you agree?
Both Ellie and myself had great gigs in front of the all female audience so that is clearly not true. People used to say that to me all the time when I first started. I think it’s more about knowing who you are on stage. Once that happens, it’s sort of irrelevant what you look like. Sometimes I’ll get a wolf whistle or a comment from a guy but I can use that to my advantage and subvert it.
Do you still keep in touch with the other Show Me The Funny contestants at all?
I knew Pat and Stu before we started, so I still see them quite a lot. Also, it was great getting to know Dan and Ellie so we have hung out post show too. In fact, I think all of us are at the Fringe this year so maybe we will have a reunion!
What can we expect from you in the future? You have been seen on the telly a few times, appearing in shows such as The Office. Do you have any plans to appear on the TV any time soon?
It’s not really up to me! I get asked to do things, which is nice and I turn up and do them. Show Me The Funny gave me a great launch pad to do things like ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’. I have a couple of my own projects in development and some acting in a new series for Channel 5. Stand up wise I have appearances on Comedy Store on Comedy Central, Eurogeddon for ITV and Olympic Moments on BBC3 coming up in the next month.
What are your favourite comedy shows on the television at the moment?
I love South Park, 30 Rock, The Thick Of It, Cougar Town, East Bound & Down.
Obviously, all jobs have their highs and lows. What are the highs and lows of being a stand-up comedian?
The high of an audience laughing is amazing, when they love everything, it’s like a play that you’ve written, performed and directed yourself. Other perks of the job include working with amazingly talented people, getting to travel the world and be your own boss. Non perks are not ALL comics are great people, some bookers are sexist, internet forums exist and you are your own boss.
A few quick fire questions:
Sex In The City 4 – Senior Citizens On Patrol.
Worst Movie you have ever seen
A home movie of me trying to break dance at the age of 7.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m re-reading my Sherlock Holmes.
What songs are you listening to at the moment?
Heaven by Emeli Sande, Hip to be Square by Huey Lewis and Epic by Faith No More.
Which rising comedians would you like to see more of?
Me. Failing that. Joey Page, Rob Beckett, Jessica Fostekew, Dane Baptiste.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
People who constantly bring up Susan Sarandon
You can catch Tiff at the Underbelly, Cowgate at 19:50 from the 2nd until the 26th of August (except the 13th).
Ticket information is available here.