Danielle Ward in a Knickerless Cage Face Off with PPSF
We caught up with Comedienne Danielle Ward at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Admittedly a good few weeks ago but hey, we’ve been busy providing you with amazing content! Eight years of performing, Timeout newcomer of the year in 2006, Mock the Week appearances, writer for many UK TV favourites including The Lee Mack Show and a regular Sunday morning podcast with none other than Dave Gorman. We really were insanely lucky to be able to pinch a sneeze of her time.
Our meeting took place in the Pleasance Dome after a performance of her solo show, which she admits she is doing just for the love of it. She apologises at the lack of a prop:
‘I’ve normally got a severed head on stage. It’s a watermelon. I dropped it the other night and it’s gone really disgusting’
Obviously taking inspiration from Gallagher there…
I ask her where she gets her ideas from because, to be honest, her show was far from what I expected (in a good way) and some of the ideas were a little whacky!
’I really like telling short stories and so that’s what that is. I have got a stand-up show! This show is just me being able to piss around and paying for the privilege. I just wanted to do something that was weird and silly and that’s what that is’
Now as this was my first face-to-facer, rather than research into methods of conducting a proper interview like a real person, I wrote a brainstorm of some of the most random questions imaginable on a sheet, and in an Ouija-board style fashion, Danielle picked questions and then endured the wrath. Here is how it played out:
Q: ‘What is the funniest word?’
‘Knickers. I nearly called my show ‘Knicker-less Cage’. It was meant to be a feminist title’
Q: ‘What is the worst job you’ve had?’
‘I worked at the South Korea embassy. I’ve also worked in Moscow so I can speak Russian. At the Korean embassy my job was mainly being asked stupid questions. The ambassador once asked me if Edinbrough and Edinburgh was the same place, and then he made me check by ringing the Scottish tourist board! I worked at Blockbuster video too in Nottingham when I was living with my Nana and Grandad. I really liked it! I worked in a casino and a fire station. I’ve done so much, that if I’d listed them all in my show there would have been no jokes, it would have just been a list of jobs…
Q: ‘What is the most awkward date you’ve been on?’
‘I‘ve not really been on many dates. I didn’t go out with anybody until I was 24 and I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 22! In the meantime, I was just being really miserable. I once went on a date to a Wetherspoons. It was half a good date and half a bad date. I was taken to see Battle Royale which was brilliant, but then we went to a Wetherspoons so I wasn’t quite sure he was the right one for me..’
Q: ‘Do you get weird thoughts?’
‘Yep, all of the time! Which is why you have to stay focused. I’m doing three shows today so I’ve taken five pro-plus just to try and pep myself up a bit.. I don’t think it helped..’
Q: ‘Tell me something random…’
‘Hmm, I used to think octopuses only had 1 eye like a Cyclops’
And then we had a bit of banter about the festival. Danielle doesn’t think she’ll return because there are just too many shows and it’s not what it used to be. The best shows in her opinion are the cabaret acts (Frisky and Mannish being one of her favourites, The Boy with Tape on his Face being another) and that’s what the festival has become. If somebody asked her what shows she would recommend, she said that she’d tell them to go and see The Dark Knight Rises instead as you pay 6 quid for 3 hours of entertainment! And then we chatted about that film for a while. I wasn’t sure we’d ever get back on track actually. She’s quite the conversationalist, but we did:
Q: ‘What do you think is the funniest accent and can you do it?’
‘South African. My South African accent is terrible. Didn’t you hear it in the show? At the end I was doing my Nottingham accent, the woman in the sketch who was the cleaner has a Nottingham accent. I’m from there so I’ve had practice.’
Q: ‘Tell us about a time you laughed so hard you cried’
‘When I was 14 I went to see Jack Dee. It was the first stand-up I ever went to see and was amazing. I was crying with laughter. I didn’t laugh so hard that I pissed myself but my Nan has done that. She once got stuck on a slide and laughed so much she pissed herself. Because she was on the slide you could see it coming down. She has a good sense of humour’
Q: ‘How much would you need paying to French-kiss Boris Johnson?’
’50 pounds? Hey, I am losing a lot of money at this Fringe. I’d take 50 for a frenchie with Boris right now’
And then I brought BoJo out! Nah I didn’t, but that would have been pretty spectacular, and a PPSF first!
‘When you’re doing stand-up at club you have to change what it is you want to do but when you’re at the Fringe you can do whatever you want. At a club, if you fail at comedy then you’ve failed at your job because the people are on a night out. You end up spending time doing material, that you don’t necessarily like, to get by, and then you think you may as well just retrain as a plumber. Some comics can go into auto-pilot but not me. If I did, you’d be able to see it in my eyes.’
Q: ‘Who pisses you off?’
‘Loads of people.’
Q: ‘Who makes you smile?’
‘My dog makes me smile. I miss my dog, his name is Buddy. He’s a cocker spaniel and he’s only four months old. We considered calling him Jarvis Cocker-spaniel but decided it was a bit too obvious. My boyfriend is very funny.. Bridget Christie makes me smile a lot, Michael Legge..’
Q: ‘Who’s stupid?’
‘Reviewers who say things like “she was so funny I forgot I was watching a woman”. That’s NOT a compliment! People think if you go and see a female comic they’ll talk about periods and stuff and that’s just not what happens! Female comics don’t do that. It’s become a taboo subject. I did bits in my show about it because if you give me a taboo subject I will put it in my show. That’s why there is a bit in my show about vagina-plasty. It’s horrible, and you can actually get your vagina cut! You see NOW I’m getting passionate. The idea that as a woman you would ever want to get your vagina trimmed… that’s where we are as a society. What a terrible thing..’
And then we chatted about feminism and how she doesn’t have a hate for men, but a hate about the fact that we could make a joke about a woman being raped but if it was the same for a man, that would be taboo. Then she defends her one-woman show (pointlessly, as I really enjoyed it) and tells me a bit about her actual stand-up show, which she assures me is really funny. After this, for some stupid reason (I think I was drunk) I’d included the question ‘Name something beginning with L that you wouldn’t put up your bum’. ‘Leslie Ash’ comes the response, lightning fast. The reasoning? Leslie Ash got her trout-pout done to please men, and then issues the advice that she probably shouldn’t get her labia cut off.
Danielle was an absolute pleasure to chat to. I’d love to do it again. I can see why she received a grant from the BBC to write because if she says a fraction of what she’s thinking then we are all in for a treat. I give her show 4 stars for sheer originality and balls (which I think she’d be proud to hear) and highly recommend that if she’s ever in your neck of the woods, or you fancy travelling for a good night out, then check if she has a show in your area. If your boyfriend is a sexist, leave him at home. Or even better, take him. He’ll leave with his tail firmly between his legs.