This month sees the release of Pretty Funny, a young adult book about a girl who is a massive comedy fan and wannabe stand up. We talked to the author of Pretty Funny, Rebecca Elliott, about comedy awe, writing teenagers accurately and why a creme egg is necessary to the writing process…
Funny Women: Tell us about your book Pretty Funny
Rebecca Elliott: Pretty Funny is about teenage, larger-than-life, feminist funny girl Haylah, or ‘Pig’ to her friends, as she navigates friendship, family and first-love whilst chasing her dream of becoming a stand-up comedian. Ultimately I hope it’s a laugh out loud tale about the importance of self-love over the opinions of others and the joy of wobbling your funny bits in the face of life.
FW: Did you share Haylah’s ambition to become a stand-up comedian?
RE: I did have an obsession with comedians as a teenager and used to write (terrible) sketch comedy but I never had Haylah’s confidence to try stand up – and I still don’t! My best friend’s a stand-up comedian and every time she gets up on stage I’m still in awe and utterly terrified for her!
But finding the funny in life has always been a priority to me, Pretty Funny isn’t in any way autobiographical but Haylah’s character is definitely one I strongly identify with!
FW: Your depiction of teenagers strikes me as realistic without being patronising, how do you strike that balance?
RE: Thank you! Though really it wasn’t much of a stretch as I pretty much still have the brain of a teenager. Although it was a long (LONG) time ago that period of my life still feels so vivid to me, and I have the greatest of respect for teenagers, which is why I like writing about them so much. It’s such an exciting yet bat-crap crazy time in your life. In just a few years you go from snotty kid to a fully-formed person, it’s insane!
You’re suddenly making your own decisions, forming your own opinions, moulding your own future, chosing what kind of person you want to be, falling in love for the first time, and all the while battling cruel expectations from the world and the media, not to mention the raging hormone battle within. I tell you, teenagers are frickin’ heroes.
FW: Any advice for aspiring novelists?
RE: Enjoy your writing! Have fun with it, and keep at it because it’s your favourite thing to do not because of some desperation to get published. That way you will only get better and better, and the inevitable rejections (part of any novelist’s life) won’t deter you.
Oh, and keep a stash of Creme Eggs available at all times for those dark and disturbing third re-writes when nothing else will save you.
FW: Who are your favourite funny women?
RE: Oh blimey, where to start?! My teen idols included French and Saunders and Victoria Wood (obvs), I’ve recently seen Sindhu Vee, Susan Calman and Hannah Gadsby live and they were all utterly brilliant. Sofie Hagen and Sophie Duker are exciting me right now (although maybe I just have a thing for the name ‘Sophie’?) I have a long-standing girl-crush on Caitlin Moran and I’m still arse-slappingly AMAZED that the hilariously funny Sharon Rooney (My Mad Fat Diary) has read the audiobook version of Pretty Funny.
Pretty Funny, by Rebecca Elliott, will be released under the Penguin imprint in paperback on 19th March 2020. To order a copy, click here!