If you haven’t had the pleasure of catching a Victoria Melody show, then now’s your chance because the legendary comedian/documentary-maker is back and raring to go
Premiering her new show Headset at The Theatre in Chipping Norton tomorrow night, she will examine the UK’s amateur stand up comedy circuit and ask what makes us laugh in typically Melody-esque fashion.
‘People who are funny down the pub are not necessarily funny on stage’
Never one to opt for an easy life, Victoria’s revered shows have already heartily explored Crufts, hair, beauty pageants, racing pigeons, Northern soul and funerals by steeping herself in their worlds to the point where the lines blur.
“It’s a compulsion. I’ve made other peoples passions my career for some reason,” she accedes.
But after falling out with her father on their last tour together ‘the cantankerous old git’, and her marriage ending, she had a bit of a mid-life crisis and decided to give it all up and try something more mainstream.
“I couldn’t get a mortgage, I was living on a boat and driving round the country in my camper van and I began to question if this was really what I wanted, and whether I should get a normal job instead?”
‘I was definitely funnier in my head than I am in real life’
Sadly the normal job option won, but while most of us would opt for office work perhaps, Victoria chose stand-up comedy instead, an easy transition, or so she believed.
“I thought I was wildly accessible and funny already,” she laughs,” so it would be really easy to get into. But the stand up comedy circuit is brutal. It was like starting out all over again.”
Why put herself through that? “Well I thought it would get better. That I’d get the hang of it, that the dingy rooms, open mic slots and dire gigs would improve. And yet it was mortifying and terrifying and humiliating.
“I like my houseboat and my camper van. Who needs a mortgage anyway?”
“People who are funny down the pub are not necessarily funny on stage and there is a huge amount of work and craft that goes into stand-up. I was definitely funnier in my head than I am in real life. I thought I was a genius!”
Worst gig? “At a medieval prison in Arundel where I got really badly heckled and then someone fell on his own glass and everyone thought that was funnier than my jokes.”
But then Victoria was diagnosed with ADHD, common in comedians apparently, and she began to look into those two parallels and find out why they’re connected.
Having spoken to neuroscientists, had her brain activity mapped and joined Brighton’s ADHD support group, she then decided to make a show about it.”
“I found my tribe at the ADHD support group,” she tells me. “None of us have a filter and we all overshare. It’s very empowering. Until then I thought there was something wrong with me, and I was a bit down on myself, but now I realise it’s just my brain and it all makes sense,” she explains.
‘IT’S A COMPULSION. I’VE MADE OTHER PEOPLES PASSIONS MY CAREER FOR SOME REASON’
So in a way this is a revelatory show? “Well yes, in that I’ve gone back to what I was doing in the first place, which may be more niche but that’s what success is to me.
“It’s about how you measure yourself. I’m never going to be mainstream. I’m always going to be a bit alternative because I’ve got a bit of a spicy brain.”
“But dipping my toe in the world of stand-up comedy has really helped my performance because when audiences hate you, you have to work so much harder to make people like you because there is nowhere to hide. Perhaps it’s a form of masochism?” she wonders.
So here we are, on the eve of Headset’s premiere, and back doing what she does best. No regrets then? ” You can’t change who you are. it just spills out of you. And anyway I like my houseboat and my camper van. Who needs a mortgage anyway?”
Victoria Melody: Head Set is at The Theatre Chipping Norton on Tuesday October 3 at 7.30pm. Book here: https://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/events/victoria-melody-headset
She is then embarking on a 22 date tour around the UK. For more details go to https://victoriamelody.com/tour-dates