Kate Stone

Kate Stone

Screaming with Laughter – Interview with Hatty Ashdown

If you’re a new parent or your BFF now has a small baby in tow but you still want your comedy fix, then you should head down to Screaming with Laughter every third Saturday of the month – it’s a lunchtime comedy club specially designed for new parents who can bring their babies with them. Screaming with Laughter at the Poplar Union is run by Hatty Ashdown, comedian, writer, radio presenter and mum, our editor Kate Stone managed to grab a chat with Hatty to talk about comedy, parenting and how becoming a mother or father can affect your career…

Kate Stone: Tell us about Screaming with Laughter.

Hatty Ashdown: Screaming with laughter is a daytime comedy club where parents can bring their small baby and see top comedians without having to fork out for a babysitter. All the comedians are invited to do their normal set which is why we set the age limit up to 12 months as we don’t want the babies first naughty word to come from us!

The club was set-up by Lucy Porter around 2011 from a need to gig and bring her babies to work. It soon became clear there was a real hunger from new parents to get out from watching daytime TV all alone with a baby hanging off them or going loopy at all the baby rhyme time type classes.

Porter handed over the clubs to me at the end of 2016, after I’d mc’d many of them, and I’ve now got five venues across London as well being a part of this year’s Udderbelly festival on the Southbank.

I was a new mum when I took it over so I really felt I was on the same journey as my audiences. Now, with my second on the way, I’m about to share that journey with a whole new set of parents.

I love performing at SWL because it’s like a night out but in the day, all our venues are where they would have normal nighttime comedy clubs in pubs or cool arts centres. So basically legitimising daytime drinking!

KS: Is performing at a lunchtime gig to parents and babies much different from your usual comedy night?

HA: YES. It can sometimes be a tough gig as you may have babies crying and an audience who are a bit distracted – so they might not catch every set-up or punchline! I always tell new acts at the club don’t lose heart or energy if they don’t respond the same way as a nighttime crowd, they may not always show it the same way, but they are definitely the most appreciative audience you’ll find.

KS: Do you think new mothers in comedy face greater challenges than new fathers?

HA: Unfortunately, yes. It’s a lot better then it used to be, but I know a lot of mothers who still feel they have to keep quiet about their pregnancy or baby for fear of not being booked or that they drop to the bottom of a promoter’s list. We just need the fathers to open up the dialogue more, be honest about time off because of a new baby. Let me put it this way, if you’re a woman and you have a kid, people always ask about how you’re able to do the gig. No-one asks that of a new dad.

KS: Do you think there is a greater camaraderie if the act and audience are all new(ish) parents?

HA: It can be a nice shared experience with the room – but the audience can have just as great a time if the act isn’t a parent and talks about stuff that is an escape from their day to day life. After all, they are living the parent life, comedy is about escape as well as relatability. Although, I’ve shared some beautiful moments about scooping out poo from a bath, or watching acts with older children tell the new parents what horrors they have ahead!

KS: Ever been heckled by a baby at Screaming with Laughter?

HA: Many many times! Luckily the babies can only scream or shout rubbish so it’s no different than dealing with a stag or hen party.

KS: Who are your favourite funny women?

HA: Too many to mention but our favourites at SWL are Taylor Glenn, Jessica Fostekew, Sara Barron, Jen Brister, Viv Groskop, Caroline Mabey, Scummy Mummies, and of course Josie Long. We’ve yet to have her but hope to get Bridget Christie to some of our big shows in the summer.

Screaming with Laughter at The Poplar Union is on every third Saturday of the month at 12:30. This Saturday (17th February) catch Hatty MCing Sara Barron and Rich Wilson! 

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

You might also like

From the Funny Women Team

Gift Guide for your Comedy Fan Friend

year again, the season of giving is almost upon us and if you have a comedy fan on your Secret Santa list, or just want to subtly share this link around your friends and family, we have put together this list of gifts anyone who likes a laugh and supporting women will love…

Read More »

It’s Britney Bitch, the Q&A

Writers and performers Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson’s hit live show Britney which tells the true story of enduring friendship amidst a brain tumour (called Britney) diagnosis has now been made into a BBC Three show starring Charly, Ellen, Omid Djalili, Tony Gardner and Lia Williams.

Read More »

Why We Protest

Protest. It’s one of the first things we do. That cry all newborns make when they’re born? That’s them protesting being pulled from the lovely warm womb and out into this cruel harsh world. In fairness, I’d be livid too; I hear it’s nice in there. We’re born protesting and I think it’s one of the things that makes us human. 

Read More »

The Guide: December

AS IF the year is nearly over. If I were to give the year marks out of ten, I would be on the receiving end of an angry phone call from the year’s mother because the year had come home from school crying, and I would tell the year’s mother that she can’t shout me into a giving the year a better grade, because I’m a good teacher actually but there’s only so much you can do when your child is hellbent on being this much of an asshole. Does that make sense?

Read More »