Susan Harrison: Folken Britain
Character comedian Susan Harrison is a regular on the London comedy circuit, most renowned for the character Mina The Horse. She also currently runs, and hosts, her own monthly themed comedy night, Cabarera, with a number of credits to her name such as The Simon Day Show (Radio 4) and Be Our Guest for the BBC Salford Sitcom Showcase, a new sitcom developed by the BBC and written by Pippa Evans.
Having stormed the Fringe back in 2010 with the succesful Creatures, winning the ThreeWeeks Editor’s Choice Award, she will be making a welcome return with all new characters for 2012. Folken Britain will feature Susan’s unique blend of absurd social satire, surreal characters and a dash of folk music to create a striking, funny and poignant character show. This year audiences can look forward to to the likes of dangerous puppy Billy Wagg, ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair and folk duo Anne and Alan. If that wasn’t enough, she will also be taking part in the award winning improvised chat show Monkeytoast at The Pleasance this year.
If you could describe your show as three Olympic sports which would you choose and why?
Diving because Tom Daley is in it (little known fact which I didn’t think was worth publicizing).
Track and Field because there are many mentions of music which Belle and Sebastian fans may pick up on.
Open Water Swimming because most of the time it flows but there are the odd bits of filth.
For you what makes the Edinburgh Fringe so unique compared to other comedy festivals?
Other comedy festivals may have a lot to offer, but it is the Edinburgh Fringe that is every comedian’s true spiritual broken home: a place which is loved and hated in equal measure by everyone who takes a show up. For punters, it’s full of fun, shows, drink, drink and drink and for performers, it’s full of hope and despair and drink and drink.
What has been your defining moment there?
Being told that I’d won a Three Weeks Editor’s Choice Award with my last show “Creatures” was pretty special. It came at a point of complete tiredness and made me feel that even if you’re doing something that’s not in the main venues and you’re competing with lots of people “off the telly” it is still possible to be noticed. That’s the lovely thing about the fringe. Another very memorable moment was drinking a really good smoothie back in 2009.
What is your worst memory/experience there?
There are so many to choose from, but being stuck out of my flat, spending the night sleeping in the car and being awoken by a tramp knocking on the window at 4am in the morning is definitely up there.
Have your preview shows gone to plan?
Yes, I’ve been really pleased with my previews. They’ve been a good combination of useful and fun and the audiences have been fantastic, both in terms of immediate feedback (i.e. laughing/not laughing) and in terms of spoken feedback afterwards i.e. “what did that mean?”.
Have you had to change much of the material since your preview shows?
Yes. This year I have tried to make my show feel quite up to date so when big things happen like the Olympics/the opening ceremony it’s rude not to mention them. Hence, I’ve tweaked a couple of lines and added a joke here and there. I will also be re-writing an entire character to make her situation clearer. In short, yes, I’ve learnt over the years that re-writes are a good thing to do and I’m sure I’ll do more as the month goes on.
What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?
Go straight to a tech for the other show I’m in: “Monkeytoast: the Improvised Chat Show”. I shall hit the ground stumbling.
Which acts will you definitely be going to see?
Daniel Kitson. I have tickets for him already and can’t wait. Also the Pajama Men who I was absolutely blown away by last year. I loved their characters and the fluidity of their show and found it totally inspiring. This year they are doing an improvised show which is even more exciting.
What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?
What unique selling point would you say your show has that other shows don’t?
According to audience feedback, it is structured differently from lots of other character shows, so come along and see if you think that’s the case or not. Also, as far as I know, I will be the only character comedian playing Tony Blair this year – although if I’m proved wrong maybe we can form of team of Tonys! Also, Billy Wagg is in my show……a dangerous puppy.
You can catch Susan at Le Monde from 4-25 Aug, at 17:30 (not the 13th or the 20th).