Having appeared on Live at the Apollo, Netflix and BBC Radio 4, 2015 Funny Women Awards winner Desiree Burch is back at the Edinburgh Fringe and she wants to know if you’ve ever been caught in a loop, if every revision requires a revolution and what if everything is the same thing forever? Desiree’s Coming Early is a soul searching journey of “mythically ridiculous proportions” but before she embarks on that, we caught up with Desiree to talk about where she feels most at home, befriending people from Edinburgh and comedy competitions…
Tell us about your show Desiree’s Coming Early!
Desiree’s Coming Early! is a personal, one-woman odyssey through the desert as told by Roxane Gay and Hunter S. Thompson. It’s a story of trekking in the search for what you think you want, and, of course, finding out more about what you need in the process. It also questions the role that story plays in our telling of ourselves and the world around us, and how those stories might be adapted. I know that sounds very big ideasy and vague, but I guess what I will say is that I went to Burning Man last year, and my eyes were opened about a lot, so I thought I’d come back to Edinburgh and tell folks about it.
You’re an actor, storyteller, comedian and writer, in what role do you feel most at home?
Ha. In some ways, it’s weird to feel at home anywhere on a stage with people shutting up and looking at you to talk for a while. I think my sense of comfort on the stage shifts as life does… Stand up feels like being yourself, but also, it’s definitely not in certain ways. Acting feels like using the stories of others to expand and express the self, and is a different route to take to get to a similar place. Writing for me is behind a lot of what I do as a creative being… and yet, I don’t know how much I’d really make happen writing-wise if I weren’t about to perform it on a stage. So, I dunno. Technically I feel most at home when I am at home in my pyjamas all day writing because it’s the work I am meant to do. But it generally takes being in my body to really make sense. I basically haven’t answered your question, but I have written a lot about it at home, and it feels pretty cozy. So yay.
You won the Funny Women Awards in 2015, since then you’ve been doing brilliantly, do you think your win had much impact on your comedy career?
Ha. Kidding. It obviously had a huge impact. For better or worse, comedy competitions in the UK guide industry attention. It can often be the difference between a closed door and an open one, when your talent and drive are the same in either case. Winning Funny Women in 2015 was a huge jumping off point in introducing myself to the UK and a lot of presenters, promoters, networks, etc. And that stuff can be the difference between paying your rent with comedy and not. So while I recognise that competitions aren’t the end-all and be-all, and there are LOADS of incredible comedians who haven’t won competitions and awards, I am glad that I was able to win one when I came to the UK, so I could do the other gigs and shows that came thereafter.
What advice do you wish you’d been given when you took a show to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time?
Pay a damn flyerer to help you get butts in seats. Even if you are flyering with them too… when you do a solo show, it pays not to be alone. Also make friends with people who live in Edinburgh. They are the best – and then you get to know the town better and feel more at home when you are here… and come and visit during the other 11 months of the year and see the city not covered in wet promo materials.
Which women would you recommend we see over the Fringe?
Too many to list here but I will try. Sophie Duker, Heidi Regan, Kemah Bob (when she’s around at FOC IT UP!), Thanyia Moore, Sofie Hagen, Jessica Fostekew, Catherine Bohart, Jen Brister, Roisin & Chiara, Rachael Young in Nightclubbing, Yoriko Kotani, Jena Friedman, Sarah Keyworth, Tiff Stevenson, Fern Brady, Cally Beaton, Sara Barron, Maggy Whitehouse and Kate Bruce in White Collar Comedy, Deborah Francis-White’s Guilty Feminist shows are done, I think, but she’ll be back with Amnesty and the Secret Policeman’s Ball, and she always makes great events happen. Amy Annette’s What Women Want shows, so you know, you can figure out what you want.
Desiree Burch: Desiree’s Coming Early! is at Heroes @ The Hive until 25th August (not 13th or 20th) at 19:40. For tickets click here!