The Funny Women Awards judges loved northern comedian Louisa Keight’s interpretation of how the north is portrayed in films and TV at the Grand Final this year. We caught up with Louisa to talk about making it to the final, character comedy and pre-performance nerves!
Funny Women: How did it feel to perform at the Funny Women Awards final?
Louisa Keight: God, it was good. Validating! Like the equivalent of someone sitting me down and saying “Yes. You’re good at stand-up comedy. It wasn’t a bad idea to dedicate your life and relationships to this pursuit.”
I also weirdly wasn’t that nervous for most of the day. I think it’s because I knew it was always going to be a room full of people who want to see me do well. Who rocks up to the Funny Women Awards, folds their arms, and says “Ok girls, impress me”? It helped that all the performers were so lovely and supportive – backstage was a room full of the nicest ever people just hyping each other up.
I did have a bit of a wobble immediately before, though. Devastated to say that this involved sitting in a corridor listening to Miles Davies and texting my ex a quote about the nature of politics from a podcast I’d recently listened to – I’m a parody of myself.
FW: How did you get started in comedy?
LK: Upsettingly, a man told me I was funny. I did a student-written play at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 and spent so long riffing off my castmates that I decided to write some of the jokes I was saying out loud down. I showed the sketches I’d written to the student who’d written the play (and was quite prolific in my University’s comedy scene at the time) and he was like, “These are really good.”
That gave me the confidence to audition them for the comedy society, the Cambridge Footlights. I became a regular in Footlights shows, put on a sketch show with the original cast of that play, and from there, I made it onto the Footlights committee. After graduating I moved to London and started doing a few character comedy monologues here and there. Under the creative eye of two of my closest friends (and two girls from that original Edinburgh play) I put together a 45-minute character show which I am proud of but will likely never see the light of day again.
This is because about a year ago, I had something of a crisis and essentially decided I hated everything I’d ever written. Burned it all down, started fresh with stand-up. I feel that stand-up has a lot more freedom – ad-libs work better, it’s easier to play around with structure, react to what’s going on in the room, move on from jokes that fall flat. And I absolutely love it.
FW: What inspires your comedy material?
LK: Most of what I think about every day is sex and death. So there’s always that.
FW: What would you say to anyone considering entering the Awards next year?
LK: Do it! Even if you think you’re not good enough. I am not trying to be modest or coy when I say I genuinely did not expect to even get to the semi-finals. Truly. And when I got to the semi-finals, I’d already mentally written off getting to the finals before I even started my set. Do it, do it, do it.
FW: And lastly, who are your favourite funny women?
Oh god. In no particular order, Catherine Cohen, Shaparak Khorsandi, Mae Martin (although they’re non-binary), Katherine Ryan, Patti Harrison, Meg Stalter, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, and my friend of ten years Beth Edwards – she’s not a comedian but she’s always made me cackle.
Photo credit: Steve Ullathorne