Natalie Bellingham caught our eye with her ruminations on tiny birds and lychees. Natalie impressed our judges enough to make it from our Zoom Awards heats to the live Grand Final at the Bloomsbury Theatre, little did we know it was her first-ever live gig! We caught up with 2021 Funny Women Awards finalist Natalie Bellingham to talk about her Awards prep, sensible sandals and nefarious dolphins…
Funny Women: How did it feel to perform at the Funny Women Awards final?
Natalie Bellingham: Oh my word, it was immense. I felt simultaneously sick and like a Viking all at the same time. I completely underestimated the grandeur of the event! I came armed with a pair of walking sandals, a head full of animal facts, and a Greggs Belgian bun for after the show. All other rounds had been on zoom so to suddenly be in such a fancy space with fleshy people twisted my melon a bit! I’d never performed stand-up in front of a live audience before, so it was a baptism of fire but a delightful one!
FW: How did you get started in comedy?
NB: I studied Theatre and Performance at Bretton Hall Uni (after two years trying to survive a PR degree). I seemed to exclusively play God, the Devil, or a prostitute for an unsettling amount of that time. Then, I accidentally enrolled in a clowning course in Barcelona in 2009, came back, and decided to set up a theatre company. Stand-up is a very recent thing for me; it was a lockdown decision. I was climbing the walls so I signed up for a free online women’s comedy workshop in February to keep my brain ticking over. It was the push I needed to start writing things- turns out I had a fair bit to say about tiny birds.
FW: What inspires your comedy material?
NB: The world – it’s hilarious. Things fascinate me and I have a lot of misplaced enthusiasm. I enjoy the small things, I like to take them on a weird little walk and see where I end up. At the moment I’m enjoying the immense amount of pleasure I derive from stepping onto a fresh, plump bath mat straight out of the shower – that might be the pandemic talking! I also love nature; it’s nuts. Insects, fungi, the sea, eels, trees, chickens, the lot. Did you know that dolphins are capable of premeditated murder? It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
FW: What would you say to anyone considering entering the Awards next year?
NB: Do it immediately! Honestly take a punt, everyone is really supportive and it might just pay off. Also, wear nice shoes.
FW: And lastly, who are your favourite funny women?
NB: Crikey! There are so many. Everyone I met at the final without exception was a legend. Host Jayde Adams was a beaut on and off stage. Genuinely the women in my life; my friends and family are hilarious. But if you want cold hard names I’d say Victoria Wood, French and Saunders, Olivia Coleman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Diane Morgan, Michelle Gomez, Sophie Willan and I love Amy Gledhill, Kat Bond, and Lucy Hopkins.
Photo credit: S Ullathorne